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16.06.2004 Regional News

Court remands farmer for trespassing

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Kumasi, June 16, GNA - A Kumasi circuit court on Tuesday remanded a 29-year-old farmer in prison custody for allocating a portion of the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve to people for farming without authority. Charles Asare pleaded not guilty to the charge and will re-appear on June 21, 2004

Prosecuting, Police Chief Inspector Regina Kesewaa told the court that in the early part of this year, the chief of Mpasaso Number Two appealed to the Forestry Commission to release part of the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve to the town for farming and reforestation.

The Forestry Commission, she said, granted the request and subsequently the chief commissioned Asare who resides in the town and two others to be in-charge of allocating the portion given to the town to interested farmers of the town.

Chief Inspector Kesewaa said, however that, during the allocation of the land to the farmers, the accused illegally allocated a large portion of the reserve outside what the Forestry Commission demarcated for the town to some people and allegedly collected money.

She said some forest guards who realised what Asare had done, reported the matter to Mr Martin Olaga, the Assistant District Forestry Officer for Nkawie, who personally inspected the area on May 7, this year to ascertain the truth.

During the inspection, the prosecutor said, Mr Olaga met some people working outside the demarcated portion and when they were questioned they said Asare sold the land to them. Chief Inspector Kesewaa said the accused, who went into hiding was however, arrested at the weekend and charged with the offence. 16 June 04