Nana Sarfo Prempeh, the owner of a mining company, has told the Accra High Court that his testimony against En Huang aka Aisha Huang, who is standing trial for alleged illegal mining offences, was not to absolve himself from being prosecuted on similar offences.
He impugned that the witness agreed to testify against the accused to steer clear of similar investigations that was commenced against him for the activities of his company by investigative authorities.
“Defence: Nana you will agree with me that you are under investigation regarding the operations of VRL.
Witness: I was invited by the state investigative authorities in relation to the illegal mining activities of the accused woman, Aisha Huang.
Defence: On October 10, 2022, you gave a statement to the investigative body?
Witness: That is correct
Defence: Your company is being investigated for mining without licence and abetment of same?
Witness: The investigators misunderstood my company until they met me in person to hear my version.
Defence: This investigative caution statement was taken from you during the pendency of this case?
Witness: I was called into this case because Ms Aisha Huang was arrested for illegal mining and I was able to submit details of events from 2015-2017 where VRL was a victim of Aisha’s illegal mining and destruction of its property. “
Aisha Huang is a Chinese businesswoman regarded nationally as an alleged illegal mining ringleader.
She has been charged with engaging in mining without licence.
Aisha also faces charges of facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation and illegal employment of foreign nationals and entering Ghana while prohibited.
Defence Counsel insisted that the witness was testifying against the accused in a case that had no connection to his company’s concession in order to quell the investigations commenced against his company.
But he responded that “I categorically reject that accusation. I am here to give evidence to ensure that justice is served.”
Mr Attachey inquired from the witness if he had met Aisha in person but he responded that “When excavators that she used to engage in her illegal mining activities on VRL’s concession were seized by the authorities, it is accused that made an appearance to claim those machines and in each of those occasions, VRL encountered her.”
Mr Attachey pushed back on the witness claim that the accused owned excavators saying that “there is no evidence of the accused possession of those machines or her appearance before any law enforcement agency to claim same.”
But the witness replied that “There is no doubt that it is accused that made appearances to claim those seized machines.”
Mr Attachey quizzed the witness on whether he was present at all the incidents when the accused alleged excavators and machines were seized with the accused present to which he replied: “In some instances yes and in some instances no.”
Presiding Judge, Justice Lydia OseiMarfo fixed the next hearing for November 28, 2022, for the defense to continue its cross-examination of the witness.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO