Seven illegal miners have been put before the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ for engaging in illegal mining in Nyafomang Forest Reserve in the Birim North District of the Eastern region.
The accused persons are AKwasi Suley, Salifu Zungudana, Tsanor Victor, Narh Stephen, Samuel Boafo, Okyere Prince and Nicholas Asokora.
They have been charged with three counts of Conspiracy to commit crime, mining without license and unlawful entry into forest reserve.
Apart from Akwasi Suley and Nicholas Asokora who pleaded not guilty to the first count of conspiracy to commit crime, the others however pleaded guilty.
Also, Akwasi Suley, Salifu Zungunda and Nicholas Asokora pleaded not guilty to the second and third counts of mining without license and unlawful entry into forest reserve respectively, however the other accused persons pleaded guilty to the offense.
The Judge however reserved judgment and remanded the accused persons in Prison custody to reappear on December 15, 2017.
The Prosecuting Officer, Chief Inspector Bernard Annor, who held brief for Superintendent Kofi Blagodzi presented to court facts of the case.
He said the complainants in the case are Police and Military personnel from Operation Vanguard Unit in the Eastern Region while the accused are illegal miners living in Akoase, Anwinso, Amenam, Adedekrom and Nyafomang in the Birim North District.
He said as part of the Operation Vanguard duties, the team led by ASP Charles Boakye, were embarking on their routine surveillance in the district when they noticed small scale mining ongoing at Amenam section of the Nyafomang Forest Reserve.
According to the Prosecutor, the team laid ambush and fortunately, the accused persons emerged from their various pits after some minutes but attempted to run away upon seeing them, however they were given a hot chase which led to their arrest.
The accused persons failed to provide mining license to the team when requested.
The Prosecuting Officer explained further that few days later, Police escorted the accused persons to the scene of crime where several mining pits which have become death traps were discovered.
Police also detected that the activities of the accused persons have polluted the Nwin River which serves as source of drinking water to Amenam, Nyafomang and other surrounding communities.