09.09.2004 Crime & Punishment

Illegal loggers, chain-saw cases to be directed to law office

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Cape Coast, Sept. 9, GNA - The Central Region office of the Attorney- General's Department has directed that all cases in connection with the arrest and prosecution of illegal loggers and chain sawn lumber dealers and other cases relating to timber resources should be forwarded to the 'Law office' in Cape Coast for study and directives. It further directed that, such cases either pending in court or being processed for court should be suspended forthwith and forwarded to the Law office.

Mr John Elletey, Central Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, who made this known on Wednesday at a press briefing in Cape Coast on the activities of illegal sawn operators and measures to curb the situation, said the order was contained in a letter written and signed by Mr Otchere-Antwi, principal State Attorney in the region.

He said his outfit had to appeal to the Attorney General's Department due to the non-deterrent sentences the courts impose on illegal loggers and chainsaw lumber dealers in the region.

Mr Elletey said the fines imposed on some of the offenders were so minimal that, they quickly pay and go back to commit the same offence, and therefore, suggested that custodial sentences be impose on them.

Mr Michael Nzulu, deputy regional manager of the Commission, expressed concern about the way the operation of the illegal loggers were affecting the forest reserves in the region and appealed to the public to cooperate and support the Commission by giving it information on the activities of illegal loggers and lumber dealers to save the forest from further degradation.

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