The Asante Bekwai Circuit Court has refused to try two persons accused of illegal mining, popularly known as ‘Galamsey’, without their accomplice.
William Boateng and Thompson Yomah were arrested and charged together with Li Yanbao, their Chinese counterpart, but he was granted police enquiry bail and has since not been arraigned.
When the two were arraigned in December 2022, the Court ordered that the third accused person, who had been granted police enquiry bail be brought before it but that failed.
The Court presided over by Mr Mark Tairimah Diboro has, therefore, vowed not to try the two accused persons if the prosecution failed to arraign the Chinese.
“You have been selective because one is white and the other is black,” he said.
“I will adjourn and take action, do not discriminate against Ghanaians and Chinese. If the Chinese had not hired the accused persons to assist, would they be arraigned? In this country of their own origin, you discriminate against them,” the Judge stated.
“If you do not bring A3 (the third accused person- Yanbao), I won’t try the accused persons. I will discharge them.”
He adjourned the trial to May 10, 2023.
Police Inspector Eric Okyere had earlier told the court that the accused persons were Boateng Williams, 26, excavator operator and Thompson Yomah, 24, excavator operator apprentice.
They were arraigned for conspiracy, providing an excavator for illegal mining and engaging in illegal mining at Manso Esiana near Manso Antoakroaa.
Li Yanbao, 38, miner, and their accomplice, has been charged with a non-Ghanaian undertaking illegal mining.
Briefing the court, the prosecution said Boateng was a resident of Atwima Bawku, Yomah lived at Manso Esiana while Yanbao was residing in Kumasi.
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The prosecution said there had been an upsurge in illegal mining activities lately within the jurisdiction at an alarming rate, destroying farmlands, forests, and polluting water bodies.
The Bekwai Police, therefore, set up a unit to address the situation.
It said on December 28, 2022, at about 0840 hours, the Ashanti South Regional Police Patrol Team left for Esiana upon information that the accused persons were engaged in illegal mining activities without license, which led to the arrest of Boateng and Yomah and the excavator.
The Court heard that the Team proceeded to another mining site at Antoakrom where Yanbao was also arrested.
The prosecution said photographs of the scenes and the accused persons were taken for further investigations.
It said efforts were being made to track the excavator to the Regional headquarters for action.