Joyce Danso, GNA
Accra Feb. 20, GNA - Two Russians and two Ukrainians who were arrested for allegedly engaging in illegal mining in Ashanti region are expected to be put before a High Court in Accra for trial to commence.
The accused on February 23, this year are expected to be discharged upon request by the prosecution at the Circuit Court.
The accused Farid Isaev, Vadim Potokia, Saerhii Chepurniy all engineers and Genadiy Rubee, a Site Engineer were said to have engaged in illegal mining in the Ashanti Region.
The State at the last court sitting sought to change the jurisdiction of the trial court being an Accra Circuit Court.
Ms Mercy Arthur a state attorney who took over prosecution told the court that looking at where incident took place they would prefer to go to the High Court.
The court presided over by Mr Aboagye Tandoh said it was in the bosom of the Chief Justice to change jurisdiction of a court in an ongoing case.
Counsel for the accused was however of the view that change of jurisdiction could be raised only if his clients were concerned about the current status of the court.
The four who are of Russian and Ukrainian origins have been charged with conspiracy to commit crime to wit undertaking small scale mining without licence.
The accused who pleaded not guilty are on bail.
Prosecuting Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Cletus Abadamlora who handled the matter earlier said the complainant is a Police officer attached to the Lands and Forestry Ministry, whiles accused were foreigners from Russia and Ukraine but residents in the country precisely Tontokrom in the Ashanti Region.
DSP Abadamlora said the Ministry of Lands and Forestry recently gave an ultimatum to all small scale mining companies and illegal miners popularly known as 'galamseyers' operating in the country to stop operations until their activities were regularised.
Prosecution said government thus banned any form of small scale mining until further notice.
On May 22, last year, the sector Minister Mr John Peter Amewu and a team including the complainant went on a fact finding mission to ensure that the ban was being complied with at Manso Tontokrom.
On their arrival, DSP Abadamlora said they met the accused busily engaged in illegal mining.
The accused were also using heavy equipment which had destroyed vast stretch of land including cocoa farms of the inhabitants and polluted their source of water.
When the accused persons were questioned, they said they were employees of Geo Professional Services, a mining company.