The fifth prosecution witness in the trial of Aisha Huang has testified that mining activities by the accused led to the destruction of river Offin and other water bodies in the Ashanti Region.
Ms Huang has been charged with 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 she had been prohibited from re-entry.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has since been on remand.
In his testimony, which was read in open court, Timothy Teye Ali, a farmer at Sukuumu, Bepotenten in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region, told the court that in 2017, he was contacted by one James Ogbey who informed him that the accused wanted to buy land to mine gold.
The witness, who was being led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atokora Obuobisa, said after an assessment of his land size, an amount of GH¢ 28,000 was agreed upon for the accused to pay.
He testified that on the day of the assessment, Mr Ogbey informed him and other farmers that the accused could not show up because she was engaged elsewhere.
Contrary to an agreement that the accused person would make full payment before clearing his four-acre land, the witness said the following morning, his farmland was cleared.
He added that after confronting Mr Ogbey, he was paid GH¢ 3,000, GH¢ 4,000 and GH¢ 5,000 as part payment for the land which had already been cleared.
“The accused person continued to work on my land without fully paying me until she was arrested for illegal mining,” he said.
The witness added that after Huang’s arrest in 2017, he, together with his family members affected by the accused person's illegal mining, went to meet James Obey (Aisha's foreman) to demand his money but Ogbey assured them that even if the accused person was convicted, her properties were enough to be sold to pay off any money the accused owed.
“The galamsey activities of the accused person led to the destruction of Offin, Nkyingo, Afraso and Kobri rivers at Sakuumu, Bepotenten.” The witness added in his testimony.
Mr Ali is expected to be cross-examined today.
En Huang has been accused of being deeply involved in illegal mining, commonly called galamsey, especially in the Ashanti Region.
She was deported from the country in 2018 after the state 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 the country to allegedly engage in the same activities.
The Attorney-General, then, decided to prosecute her for the alleged crimes before her deportation and new ones committed since her return to the country.
It is the case of the prosecution that Huang 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 has denied the charges levelled against her.