The Chinese national, En Huang, popularly known as Aisha Huang, has been sentenced to four and half years in prison for engaging in illegal mining in Ghana.
Aisha Huang, who has also been slapped with a GH¢48,000 fine, is also to be deported after serving her jail term.
That was after the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Lydia Osei-Marfo, found her guilty on the charge of undertaking a mining operation without a licence, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation and the illegal employment of foreigners.
She was also convicted on her own plea in the charge of entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.
It was the court’s opinion that the state, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Aisha Huang committed the crime
Facing the judge in her usual nose mask and white scarf, Aisha was calmly seated in the dock one hour into the reading of the judgement.
While Aisha Huang had denied all the charges, it was the court’s view that she contradicted herself in her defence statements in the trial which lasted for one year, two months.
Plea of mitigation
Miracle Attachey, counsel for Aisha Huang, in his plea of mitigation said his client had been in custody since October 2022.
He, therefore prayed the court to impose a fine and deport his client instead of a custodial sentence.
“It is our humble prayer that a custodial sentence to the accused would exert another financial burden on the state particularly the prison service”, he added.
She has made the work of the prosecution and court move expeditiously regarding her re-entry charge.
In a sharp response, the Director of Public Prosecutions said taking into consideration the impact of Aisha Huang’s action on the families and witnesses who testified before the court, it was imperative for the court to impose a maximum custodial sentence and a deportation order.
“In conclusion, we wish to state that because of the indignity with which the accused person operated, the sentence should reflect the impact of her actions on the people of Ghana, the communities that she had permanently impaired and the livelihoods that she took away,” she added
En Huang was accused of being in the thick of affairs of illegal mining [galamsey], especially in the Ashanti Region.
She was deported from Ghana in 2018, after the Attorney-General decided to discontinue her trial in which she was accused of engaging in small-scale mining without licence.
However, she was said to have sneaked back into Ghana to allegedly engage in the same activities for which she was deported.
In October 2022, the Attorney-General then decided to prosecute her for the alleged crimes before her deportation and new ones committed since her re-entry into Ghana.
It was the case of the prosecution that Aisha had an illegal mining concession at Bepotenten in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region and also operated a mining support services company.
She had pleaded not guilty to undertaking a mining operation without a licence, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, the illegal employment of foreigners, and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.
But on May 3, 2023, Aisha pleaded guilty to entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry contrary to section 20(4) of the Immigration Act, 2000, Act 573.
That was after she had entered into a Plea Bargaining agreement with the State (office of the Attorney General).
Due to the time Aisha Huang committed the offence, she was sentenced based on the old mining law, Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), which imposes a maximum of a five-year jail term for engaging in illegal mining.
This old law was replaced in 2019 by the Minerals and Mining Act, 2019 (Act 995).
Under Act 995, convicted illegal miners face a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Source: Graphic online