5 Chinese, 4 Ghanaians convicted for polluting Ankobrah

A Sekondi high court on Thursday convicted five Chinese and four Ghanaians to a total fine of GHȻ54, 000, for polluting River Ankobra in the Bamiankor area of the Western Region, in March, last year.

The  convicts, Dong Cheng, unemployed, 30, Hung Jian, engineer, 51, Ning Guorui, welder, 42, Yin Bi Quiang, spare parts dealer, 46, Li Zilong, cook/farmer, 44, Eric Owusu, carpenter, 28,  Kwabena Adjei, small scale  miner, 50, Kwasi Owusu, unemployed, 28, and Kofi Darko, driver, 21, are to pay GHȻ6,000 each or in default spend 24 months in prison.

Nana Adu Ackah Mensah, farmer, 42, was, however, acquitted and discharged.

The convicts pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conspiracy to carry out illegal mining on River Ankobra, undertaking small scale mining without licence, causing intentional and unlawful damage to property in a manner likely to cause danger to life, pollution of water.

They were also charged for acting  together to interfere  with the  flow of water, altering, polluting  or fouling  water source, the River Ankobra, and disregard for  a directive and  obligation  imposed  under the  Immigration Act.

The  court presided  by Justice Edward  Amoako Asante, ordered the police to either dismantle the boat  the convicts used to mine gold on River Ankobra  or supervise them for same purpose.

The judge explained that Nana Ackah Mensah was acquitted and discharged because prosecution witnesses testified that he was arrested outside the boat that was being used for the illegal mining.

Justice Asante said the prosecution gave evidence to prove that the convicts polluted River Ankobra as the colour of the river changed to brown due to their activities, when they were in the boat, and directly defecated into the water.

He stated: “I have reviewed the entire evidence and find an established fact that the activities of the accused persons on the river led to the brownish discolouration and pollution, thus causing health problem for those living along the banks that used it for their livelihood. The explanations by the convicts are afterthoughts just to throw dust into the eye of the court.”

Justice Asante observed: “The prosecution provided enough evidence that the convict conspired and actually polluted River Ankobra. It doesn’t matter whether or not they previously agreed to do that or not.  I will   punish them in terms of section 24 of the Water Resource Commission Act of 1996 Act 96 under which they were charged.”

Earlier, a senior state attorney, Mr. George Sackey, told the court that in March 2017, 10 suspects, including the five Chinese, were arrested by the Western Regional Police Command, for allegedly engaging in illegally mining popularly called galamsey, in River Ankobra, in the Bamianko corridor of Nzema East municipality.

Mr. Constantine Kudzedzi represented the convicts while Mr. Samuel Ericson Abakah represented Nana Mensah, who was acquitted and discharged.


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