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General News of Friday, 19 May 2017


'Galamsey Queen' in Nsawam Prison

An Accra High Court (Criminal Division) yesterday could not hear the bail application filed by lawyers for the five Chinese nationals, including Aisha Huang who has adopted the local name Yaa Asantewaa – the 31-year-old woman suspected to be one of Ghana’s most notorious illegal miners.

The galamsey queen’s hope of being granted bail was therefore dashed as she made her way to the Nsawam Prisons where she is cooling off.

The court, presided over by Charles Edward Ekow Baiden, held that the court had observed some inconsistencies in the affidavit in opposition filed by the Attorney General (AG).

Jerry Akeweteh, lawyer for the other suspects – Gao Jin Cheng, 45; Lu Qi Jun, 39; Haibin Gao, 26; Zhang and Zhang Pen, 23 – had dashed to the court five days before in a desperate attempt to secure bail for his clients.

He said the defence counsel had filed a motion on notice for bail pending the trial on May 15.

But Mercy Arthur, the chief state attorney, opposed the bail application and requested for more time to study the reasons for the bail application as well as a docket she received from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).

She stated that the prosecution received the docket yesterday from the GIS and were going to charge the suspects under the Mineral and Mining Act.

Ms Arthur was emphatic that the AG, upon calling the docket from the Immigration Service, realized that the activities of the suspects could have contravened other laws.

She stated that while the prosecution was putting their case together, they were served with the instant bail application.

Justice Baiden said he saw the AG’s affidavit in opposition to the bail application on Wednesday.

He wondered why the AG would oppose the bail, especially when the Chinese had not been officially charged under the Mineral and Mining Act for which reason they should be remanded.

The judge stated that the AG must go back and put their house in order because their opposition to the bail had no legs to stand on, adding that the AG could have amended the charge sheet.

Mr Akeweteh, for this reason, urged the court to grant the suspects bail while the AG put their case together, but the judge said the parties ought to contain each other until May 23 when the case is due for hearing.

The suspects worked as illegal miners at Bepotenten in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.

At the time of their arrest, galamsey had been outlawed by the government, through the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu.