The 29 foreigners arrested for illegal mining in the Atiwa Rain Forest Reserve have pleaded not guilty to three charges levelled against them by a Koforidua Circuit Court B on Friday, February 3.
They were charged with three counts of conspiracy to mine without authorization, mining without authorization (Minerals and Mining Amendment Act 2015) and trespassing (Criminal Code Act 29), which they all pleaded not guilty to.
The court presided over by Her Honour Ms. Mercy Adei Kotei, refused to the plea for bail from the lawyer for the accused persons on the grounds of the nature of the offense, the severity of punishment involved, and the fact that there is no proof of permanent residence in Ghana by the accused persons.
The accused persons have thus been remanded to reappear in two weeks time for separate trials in batches, which will commence on February 17 to March 1st 2017.
In an interview with Citi News after the court hearing, the lawyer for the accused persons, Dollah D.B Djaba-Mensah, said he will consider applying to the High Court for bail for his clients on the grounds of human rights.
The illegal miners of various nationalities were arrested on Thursday, January 26th by the Eastern Regional Forestry Commission in a joint operation with a combined Rapid Task-force of Police and Military personnel in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region.
This was after the forestry commission received an anonymous tip that some nationals suspected to be from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo, had entered the Atiwa Rain Forest Reserve and were operating illegally with sophisticated devices in search of gold.