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Crime & Punishment of Friday, 8 September 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Operation Vanguard secures first conviction

The Obuasi Circuit Court presided over by Justice F.W.K. Nawura, last Wednesday fined seven of the 11 persons arrested at Akrokerri in the Ashanti Region on August 30, 2017, by the Joint Taskforce GH¢2,400 each for engaging in illegal mining.

This is the first conviction of the 308 persons so far arrested by the Operation Vanguard, Joint Taskforce.

The 11 persons were all charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit crime (undertaking small scale mining without licence) and undertaking small scale mining without licence.

Six of the convicted persons who are females - Hannah Essel, 46; Elizabeth Akrugu, 25; Juliana Opokuaa, 18; Ammah Buaah, 26; Betty Yeboah, 20 and Monica Ebaah, 32 - pleaded guilty to both counts and were subsequently convicted to a fine of GH¢2,400 each or in default four months in prison in hard labour.

The two other suspects - Opoku Agyemang Richard, 32 and Sulemana Mohammed, 25 pleaded not guilty to the first count and were also convicted on the second count to a fine of GH¢2,400 or in default four months in prison in hard labour.

The remaining three accused persons namely, Yaw Amoako, 49; Babana Sule, 33 and Samuel Nunoo, 30 who pleaded not guilty to both counts were granted bail to the tune of GH¢30,000 to reappear on October 5, 2017.

Earlier this week, the Joint task force appealed to the Ministers of Defence and Interior to help speed up prosecution of suspects arrested.

Commenting on the fines, the Convenor of the Media Coalition against Galamsey, Mr Kenneth Asigbe, called for harsher punishment for persons arrested for engaging in galamsey.

He described the fines as too lenient and not deterrent enough considering that persons involved in illegal mining may find such fines easy to pay.

The Media Coalition has been at the forefront of the fight against galamsey and has pledged not to relent in its efforts to ensure that the practice is eliminated to save the environment from further deterioration.