The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has indicated that his office will be pursuing more years to be added to the four-and-a-half-year sentence of illegal mining (galamsey) kingpin, En Huang, alias Aisha Huang.
The Office, in a press statement, said it would be appealing the decision of the High Court to test the propriety of the court sentencing the convict under the old Minerals and Mining Act (Act 900) instead of the existing Act 995, which details stiffer punishment for offenders.
Aisha Huang, who infamously earned the nickname ‘Galamsey Queen’, was on Monday sentenced to four and a half years in hard labour by a High Court in Accra for illegal mining and immigration offences.
She was also fined a total of GH¢48,000 by the court after the Office of the Attorney General successfully proved its case against her.
The convict, who illegally returned to Ghana through Togo after her repatriation in December 2018, was standing trial for undertaking illegal mining, facilitating the participation of persons in a mining operation, illegal employment of foreign nationals and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entering.
She pleaded not guilty to all the charges when she was put before the court in November last year, but changed her plea and pleaded guilty to re-entering Ghana illegally in May 2023, after the prosecution had begun calling its witnesses.
Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, in passing the sentence, considered the fact that at the time Aisha Huang committed the offence between 2015 and 2017, the maximum sentence under Minerals and Mining Act 900 for illegal mining was five years.
The Act was amended by the Minerals and Mining Act (Amended), 2019 (Act 995), which enhanced the maximum sentence to 25 years and the maximum fine of GH¢4.2 million for foreigners.
But in the view of the trial judge, Article 19(6) of the Constitution prohibits a penalty from being imposed for a criminal offence that is more severe in degree or description than the maximum penalty that could have been imposed for that offence at the time that it was committed.
She also sentenced the convict to another 12 months for the charges of illegally employing foreign nationals and re-entering Ghana illegally and he was fined GH¢12,000 for the same offence.
The sentences are to run concurrently so she will spend four and a half years in prison but will pay the entire GH¢48,000 fine.
The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, in the statement, however, expressed appreciation for the “relatively swift manner in which justice has been dispensed in this case. The same underscores the commitment to the punishment of illegal mining offences.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Dame entreated members of the public, including lawyers, to be mindful of the facts stated above and desist from comments that not only jeopardise the sound and efficient administration of justice but also undermine the fight against illegal mining (galamsey).