Four illegal miners who invaded the Desiri Forest Reserve to carry out illegal mining operations have been fined ¢12,000 by the Tepa Circuit Court in the Ashanti Region.
Nkoah Michael, Agyemang Duah, Amponsah Simon and Akwasi Agyare will each pay a fine of ¢3,000 or in default serve two years imprisonment.
The accused, who were first arraigned on May 14, pleaded guilty to illegally entering the forest and carrying out unlawful activities in the reserve which is under the jurisdiction of the Mankraso Forest District.
The Circuit Court, presided by Jonson Abbey, convicted them on their plea.
They were arrested by members of the Rapid Deployment Taskforce of the Forestry Commission for causing damage to the Asuakaw portion of the forest in the Asutifi South District of the Ahafo region.
The accused persons at the time of their arrest had caused damage to the 150.95-kilometre forest reserve, by digging deep mining pits in search of gold.
Officials of the Forestry Commission discovered the nefarious activities of the illegal miners through routine surveillance and patrols in the reserve about a month ago.
Though they managed to escape, luck, however, eluded them when the Rapid Response Team with the support of range manager and forest guards, arrested them.
District Forestry Manager, Godwin Agyemang gave the assurance that his outfit will continue to monitor and arrest recalcitrant trespassers on the reserve.
"This should serve as a caution to all potential intruders that, we will not rest on oars until they are brought to book," he warned.
Officials at the Mankraso District Forestry say operations of the illegal miners, if not stopped immediately, could encourage the use of earth-moving machinery such as excavators and bulldozers for illegal mining activities at the reserve.
Meanwhile, Mr. Agyemang has commended the Tepa Circuit Court for the speedy adjudication of the case.
He says this will serve as deterrent to others with similar intentions.