Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, the Judge who sentenced galamsey kingpin Aisha Huang to four and half years in prison, says the Chinese national took advantage of Ghana's hospitality.
Aisha Huang was also ordered to pay a fine of GHC 48,000.
“The accused person abused our kind hospitality when her first trial was truncated and she was deported to her home country. She came back this time with new personality with a different name, different date of birth,” Justice Lydia Osei Marfo said.
Justice Marfo made this known while delivering her judgement on the case brought against Aisha Huang.
Aisha Huang in November 2022 was arraigned on four counts of engaging in mining activities without a license, facilitating the operation of people in mining without license, illegal employment of foreign nationals and entering Ghana while prohibited from same.
This was after she was reported to have entered through the Aflao border to engage in her activities in October 2022 despite having been deported in 2018, after the state filed a nolle prosequi into similar charges.
The Chinese illegal miner in the over one-year course of the trial pleaded not guilty to all counts except the count of entering Ghana while prohibited from doing so.
The state called eleven witnesses including farmers who testified to having sold farm lands to the convict and sighted her undertaking illegal mining on the lands. Video evidence was produced by state prosecutors on the level of devastation caused by Aisha Huang.
The Judge after considering the evidence before her concluded that the 'state has discharged its burden of prove beyond reasonable doubt.'
But before she could impose her sentence, lawyers of Aisha Huang during mitigation, prayed the court to impose a fine and deport her than imposing a custodial sentence.
Her lead counsel, Miracle Attachey prayed that “Seeing the nature of our prisons especially given the economic hardship that the country is experiencing we pray for a fine and deportation of the accused back to her country.”
But director of public prosecutions Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa disagreed saying that “My Lord, taking into consideration the impact of her action, the families of the witnesses who testified in this court, we wish to persuade my lord to impose a term of imprisonment as well as the fine.”
Justice Lydia Marfo opted for both a custodial sentence and a fine. She, however, expressed concern that she is restricted by law to impose the harsher punishment of a minimum of 15 years and maximum of years 25 under the new legal regime brought by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) ACT 2019, 995.
“I wish I had the right to impose the punishment under the current law,” Justice Lydia Marfo noted before giving her sentence.
This is because Aisha Hung was arraigned under ACT 900 which previously set a maximum of five years as punishment for the offence of engaging in mining activities without a license.
The judge then sentenced her to 4 and half years on counts one and two which dealt with her engagement in illegal mining.
She was also handed a 12 months sentence for count 3 and 4 which are on the illegal employment of foreigners and entering Ghana while prohibited to do so.
The sentences are to run concurrently. She is however to pay a fine of 48K for the four counts and in default spend additional (4 and half years for count one and two, 3 years for count three and four) in jail.