A Koforidua Circuit Court in the Eastern region, presided over by Her Honour, Mercy Adei Kotei has sentenced four men to a total of 16 years into prison custody for illegal mining in the heart of the Atewa Forest Reserve.
The convicts were also fined 12 thousand penalty units equivalent to GH¢ 96,000.00.
Appearing before the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’, the convicts, Kwaku Ampaabeng, 32, Kwabena Apaw, 39, Evans Ahenkorah, 33, and 55-year-old Yaw Effah Boateng, all pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit crime and mining without license contrary to Section 23(1) of Act 29.
The prosecutor, an assistant state attorney, Dickson Donkor told the Court the four men were reported by a Forestry Services official in charge of the Atewa Range Forest Reserve.
“The convicts were arrested in August last year by the forest guards of the forestry services led by the Kyebi Range Manager, Jones Agyei Kumi between Akwadum and Potrease within the enclave of river Pang and Omenatwi.
“The illegal miners cumulatively destroyed about 15 hectares of the forest reserve.The arresting officers retrieved seven water pumping machines, pick axe, four metal buckets, a washing carpet, shovel and a head pan,” he narrated.
The convicts before their sentence pleaded to the court to forgive them with the excuse that they engaged in the act to get money to feed themselves and their families.
However, the judge declared a four-year imprisonment and additionally charged them 12 thousand penalty units each.
Family members who besieged the court premises could not hold back their tears with Beatrice Kwakyewa, wife of one of the convicts expressing disappointment with the ruling.
Meanwhile, the Range Manager in an interview with Adom News stated that the ruling is a sign of victory in the fight against illegal mining.