Forestry Commission Commends Judge over Swift Prosecution of 29 foreign illegal miners    Forestry Commission Commends Judge over Swift Prosecution of 29 foreign illegal miners
The Eastern Regional Branch of the Forestry Commission of Ghana has commended  the Presiding Judge of the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ ,Her Honour Mercy...    Forestry Commission Commends Judge over Swift Prosecution of 29 foreign illegal miners

The Eastern Regional Branch of the Forestry Commission of Ghana has commended  the Presiding Judge of the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ ,Her Honour Mercy Adei -Kotei and the Attorney General Department in the region for the swift prosecution of the 29 foreigners arrested in the Atewa Forest Reserve .
Addressing the media in Koforidua Wednesday at the Regional Office of the Forestry Commission,the Regional Manager  ,Mr.Attah Owusu said illegal mining and other illegal chainsawing activities remain a major threat to forest reserves in the region therefore the sentence pronounced will serve as deterrent to others in the quest of the commission to protect the forest reserves.
According to the Manager , prosecution of the suspects arrested engaging in illegal activities in forest reserve over the years have been demoralizing adding that, the sentences have been too lenient and in some cases botched however ,there has been a huge paradigm shift in recent times as the courts have been swift and strict in applying the laws in punishing perpetrators .
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The Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’  Presided over by Her Honour Mercy Adei Kotei on Wednesday convicted the 29 illegal miners mostly foreigners arrested in the Atewa Forest Reserve to a total fine of Ghc15,690 ,000 in default serve  139 years.

Three of the convicts who are Ghanaians were convicted  to a 2500 penalty units which translates to a fine of ghc30,000  each in default serve three years  prison sentences while the other 26 convicts were fined  50000 penalty units equivalent to ghc600, 000 each in default serves five years prison sentence each.
All the convicts were found  guilty of all the charges of conspiracy to commit crime,illegal mining and mining without license .
  25 of the convicts are Nigeriens while 1 is from Guinea Conakry. 
The court said, the accused persons claims of hunting for grass cutter and flying birds during the trial could not be backed by evidence .
  
According to the court ,no implement or weapon was found on the accused to justify  the hunting claims instead mining equipments were retrieved.
The judge stated that ,the convicts  gave conflicting evidence indicating they were  deceiving  the court with the hunting claims.
 
Throughout the trial,the accused persons have pleaded not guilty to three counts.
The Eastern Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission ,Mr .Attah Owusu   said the sentence is a moral booster to the commission in the region .