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16.06.2004 General News

Witness maintain stand against Appentengs

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Accra, June 16, GNA - Five local small-scale miners from the Ada Songor Lagoon catchment area, who had mentioned Mr Sammy Appenteng, former General Manager of Vacuum Salt Company and his brother Stephen at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Wednesday maintained their grounds that the two maltreated them in 1982.

However, Mr Sammy Appenteng denied involvement of himself and his brother in any maltreatment of the Witnesses.

The two brothers, who were the at Commission's public hearing to cross-examine the Witnesses, were represented by a team of young lawyers, led by Mr Aurelius Awuku and assisted by Mr Kissi Adjabeng and Mr David Asiedu.

Mr Sammy Appenteng, testifying, said if any thing at all, the Witnesses, Madam Aku Sabi; Mr Albert Larweh Ayittah; Mr Abel Korleteye; Mr Salifu Morttey and Mr Benjamin Ofotsu Appronti were arrested by either military personnel or customs security men engaged by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to check illegal mining of salt in the Vacuum Salt Company concession

Despite persistent invitation by the Commission's Chairman Mr Justice Kweku E. Amua-Sekyi to Mr Awuku to allow Mr Stephen Appenteng, who was sat by his brother in the Chamber, to give evidence because of the short time left for the Commission to end its public hearings, Mr Awuku refused and preferred a later date for his client.

Mr Awuku said the Commission did not state in its invitation letter that Mr Stpehen Appenteng should testify on Wednesday.

The Witnesses had said Stephen Appenteng ordered soldiers to beat them up adding that they also asked them to chew salt and to drink some smelly salt solution, which made one of them to abort her pregnancy. Madam Aku Sabi, one of the Witnesses said Mr Stephen Appenteng gave her salt to chew, and attributed her miscarriage to the salt she was given to chew, and the drinking of the brine.

She did not accept a suggestion from Mr Awuku that she lost the pregnancy because she did not take good care of it. Mr Benjamin Aprontti, one of the Witnesses said he had been mining salt in the area for about 25 years and narrated how the soldiers maltreated them.

He said the company that was situated at Sege, engaged in the winning of salt adding that it used a Chinese technology to produce it. Mr Appenteng said the three clans of Ada leased about 80.29 square kilometres to the Company for 70 years yet the local people were mining on it.

He said security men guarded the crystallization area adding that though there were some arrests he saw none of those arrested. Mr Appenteng said the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service intercepted some of the salt at the barriers adding that they took the salt to their warehouse and later sold them and deposited the proceeds into the Government's chest.

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