An Accra Circuit Court has adjourned until June 14, a ruling on the bail application filed by lawyers of the two Russians and two Ukrainians in police grips for allegedly engaging in illegal mining (galamsey).
The court, presided over by Aboagye Tandoh, set the date to afford the prosecution enough time to conclude their investigations into the case.
The accused persons are Farid Isaev, Vadim Potokin, Serhii Chepurniy – all engineers – and Genadiy Rubec, a site manager.
The four appeared before the court yesterday after a failed attempt to charge them last Friday because of the absence of a Russian interpreter.
According to the prosecutor, DSP Cletus Abadanlowra, the accused persons on or about May 22, this year at Manso- Tontokrom in the Amansie Circuit of the Ashanti Region, conspired and did undertake small-scale mining without authority.
However, at the hearing, the four galamsayers, speaking through one Rashida Osmanu, a Russian interpreter, denied the offence.
Emmanuel Kofi Darko, lawyer for the accused persons, who prayed for bail, said his clients are not known to the law, indicating that they are innocent until proven guilty.
He said the accused persons had assured the defence team that they would be present for the trial and would not interfere with further investigations.
According to Mr Darko, all the accused persons were sick and that their continuous detention would only deteriorate their health, although he did not have any medical report to support his assertion.
DSP Abadanlowra, opposing the application for bail, said the prosecution was yet to visit the site.
He stated that the court ought to remand the accused persons to enable the prosecution to investigate the case.
Prosecuting, DSP Abadanlowra said the complainant in the case is a police officer attached to the Lands and Forestry Ministry, while the accused persons are foreigners from Russia and Ukraine respectively, who are resident in Ghana, precisely Tontokrom in the Ashanti Region.
The Minister of Lands and Forestry, John Peter Amewu, recently gave an ultimatum to small-scale mining companies and illegal miners operating in the country to stop their activities till their operations are regulated.
The government banned all forms of small-scale mining in the country till further notice.
On May 22, Mr John Peter Amewu and a team, including the complainant, went on a fact-finding tour at Manso Tontokrom to ensure that the ban was being complied with and in the course of that, they met the accused persons busily engaged in illegal mining without lawful authority.
They were using heavy equipment, which had degraded a vast land nearby, destroying farm crops and cocoa farms of the inhabitants and had polluted their source of drinking water.
The accused persons stated that they were employees of Geo Professional Services GPS), a mining company.