Koforidua, March 17, GNA - A Koforidua Circuit Court on Thursday fined 21 persons charged with illegally mining at Noyen, near Akuase, five million cedis each.
They pleaded guilty and will go to jail for six months in hard labour, should they fail to pay the fine.
One of the convicts, Kwesi Gyekye, who also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of mercury, was fined additional three million cedis or three months' imprisonment to run concurrently.
Another person, who pleaded not guilty to illegal mining but pleaded guilty to illegal possession of mercury, was fined three million cedis or in default three months in jail.
The court, however, granted bail to eight others, who pleaded not guilty to illegal mining, in the sum of 20 million cedis each with one surety to re-appear before the court on April 6, 2005.
Prosecuting, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) David Eklu told the court that in November 2004, the chiefs and elders of Noyen reported to the police that some young men had invaded the town and were degrading the environment by engaging in illegal gold mining.
He said the Regional Police Command advised the chief and the elders to go and advise the young men to stop their activities and leave the area.
Mr Eklu said it was later learnt that the culprits did not take the advice of the chief and elders and so on March 7, this year, the Regional Security Council moved to the area and gave them up to March 10, this year, to move out of the area.
They again ignored the police ultimatum and rather acquired new machines to step up their illegal mining, hence their arrest, Mr Eklu said.