Lawyer for suspected “galamsey” kingpin, En Huang aka Aisha, has been ordered by the Accra High Court to present documents to the court, showing that he was indeed representing Aisha and four other Chinese standing trial for allegedly engaging in illegal mining.
The presiding judge, Mr Charles Ekow Baiden, gave the order today (Monday) after the lawyer, Captain (rtd) Nkrabea Effah-Dartey, moved an oral application for the court to vary the bail conditions of the five Chinese.
Mr Effah-Dartey informed the court that he was joining the case for the first time as an additional solicitor.
But Mr Justice Baiden was of the view that there was no indication on the court’s record that Mr Effah-Dartey was lawyer for the five Chinese and, therefore, it was necessary for counsel to formally notify the court of his involvement in the case.
The presiding judge also revealed that the substantive lawyer for the five Chinese, Mr Bernard Owuriedu, was earlier in court, but he left with an excuse that he had to attend to a medical issue.
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In his response, counsel said it was not necessary to file a change of solicitor in criminal cases. Such a requirement, he said, was only necessary in civil matters.
Mr Justice Baiden, however, reminded counsel that he (counsel) was not known to the case and, therefore, he must do the necessary thing.
“Failure to file a change of solicitor was not a major defect in criminal cases, but I prefer to have everything on record, so file the necessary processes that you are a counsel in this matter,’’ he said.
“Is it fair?”
Even before the presiding judge’s order, Captain (rtd) Effah-Dartey, had impressed on the court to vary the bail condition of Aisha Huang, Gao Jin Cheng, Lu Qi Ju, Haibin Gao and Zhang Zhipeng to enable them report to the Ashanti Regional Command of the Ghana Immigration Service instead of the headquarters in Accra.
But the judge was not enthused by counsel’s submission after it was revealed that lawyers for the five accused made a similar application before another High Court, which was rejected.
On December 6, 2017, another High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Iddrisu Abdulai, which took over the case because Mr Justice Baiden was on leave, dismissed the application.
“Do you think it is fair for me to hear an application which was rejected by a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction?’’ Mr Justice Baiden asked counsel.
The court adjourned the case to February 19 and 20 with an instruction to the accused persons to inform their lawyers to come and cross-examine the first prosecuting witness.
Charges and facts
Aisha Huang and her compatriots were arraigned on May 9, 2017 for engaging in illegal small-scale mining activities at Bepotenten in the Amansie Central District of the Ashanti Region.
She was charged with three counts of undertaking small-scale mining operations contrary to Section 99(1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), providing mining support services without valid registration with the Minerals Commission contrary to sections 59 and 99(2) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) and the illegal employment of foreign nationals contrary to section 24 of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
The other four accused persons were charged with disobedience of a directive given by or under the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
According to the prosecution, Aisha had a mining concession at Bepotenten in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region and also operated a mining support services company.
The four other accused persons, it said, were employed by Aisha to work at the mining site.
The prosecution claims checks at the Minerals Commission revealed that Aisha had no licence to operate either a mine or a mining support services company.
Also, they contended that the visas issued to all the five Chinese by the Ghana Embassy in Beijing, China, did not allow them to work in Ghana.