32 illegal miners at Atewa remanded into police custody
A Koforidua Circuit Court presided over by Mrs Mercy Adei-Kotei has remanded 32 illegal miners operating in the Atewa Forest Reserve who carried themselves out as national security operatives, into Police custody.
This is the second time they have been refused bail by the court and are to re-appear on June 8, 2021.
Earlier, lawyers for the accused persons prayed the court that their clients would not run away and would be available anytime the court needed them and so should be granted bail.
The Prosecution led by Assistant State Attorney Mr Dickson Donkor said, on 4th May this year, the accused being in a group carrying themselves as operatives of national security, stormed Akenteng, a community in the Atewa Forest Reserve to mine for gold illegally.
Following security intelligence that the accused persons armed with weapons and riffles were undertaking illegal mining activities in the name of the national security and harassing inhabitants of the villages and communities with their weapons.
The prosecution said on the strength of the intelligence gathered, a team of police officers from the national secretariat were dispatched to the area to ascertain the facts on the ground.
The prosecution said another team of Police Officers from the Eastern Regional Police command, then joined the national team and proceeded to Akenteng portion of the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Atiwa East District, where the team met and rescued the accused persons from an angry youth who had already invaded the forest in an attempt to arrest them.
According to the prosecution, preliminary investigations showed that the accused persons carried themselves as national security operatives whereas in fact they were not.
Mr Dickson said armed with weapons, accused persons have been visiting several mining towns and villages within Ashanti and the Eastern regions to do illegal mining.
The prosecution said the accused persons as part of their unlawful activities threatened, demanded and seized an unspecified kilogramme of gold and huge sums of money from certain small scale miners in the name of national security.
He said the accused were arrested in the process of mining for gold and brought to Accra later for further interrogation and in the course of that the accused said that they were not officers of the national security as they alleged.
The prosecution said exhibits retrieved from the accused persons included Tudor shot gun, a pump action gun, two hand shot guns, assault rifles and 10 rounds of ammunition, cougar pistol, 12 Gota handsets, three handcuffs, four shovels and an electronic shocker.