Notorious Chinese national, En Huang, also known as Aisha Huang, has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison for engaging in illegal mining and re-entering Ghana after being deported. She has also been fined GH¢48,000 and ordered to be deported again after serving her jail term.
The Criminal Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Lydia Osei-Marfo, found her guilty on the charges of undertaking a mining operation without a licence, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, the illegal employment of foreigners, and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.
The court ruled that the state, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Yvonne Atokora Obuobisa, had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Aisha committed the crimes. The court also noted that Aisha contradicted herself in her defence statements in the trial, which lasted for one year and two months.
Aisha, who appeared calm and collected in the dock, wearing a nose mask and a white scarf, was convicted on her own plea on the charge of entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry. She had entered into a Plea Bargaining agreement with the State (office of the Attorney General) on May 3, this year.
Her counsel, Miracle Attachey, pleaded with the court to impose a fine and deport his client instead of a custodial sentence, arguing that a jail term would exert another financial burden on the state, especially the prison service. He also said that his client had made the work of the prosecution and the court move expeditiously regarding her re-entry charge.
However, the DPP opposed the plea, saying that the sentence should reflect the impact of Aisha’s actions on the people of Ghana, the communities that she had permanently impaired, and the livelihoods that she took away. She said that Aisha had operated with indignity and had shown no remorse for her offences.
Aisha Huang was accused of being in the thick of affairs of illegal mining, also known as galamsey, especially in the Ashanti Region. She was deported from the country in 2018, after the Attorney General decided to discontinue her trial in which she was accused of engaging in small-scale mining without a licence.
However, she was said to have sneaked back into the country to allegedly engage in the same activities for which she was deported. In October 2022, the Attorney General then decided to prosecute her for the alleged crimes before her deportation and new ones committed since her entry back into the country.
It is the case of the prosecution that Aisha had an illegal mining concession at Bepotenten in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region and also operated a mining support services company; she had pleaded not guilty to undertaking a mining operation without a licence, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, the illegal employment of foreigners, and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.
But on May 3, this year, Aisha pleaded guilty to entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry contrary to section 20(4) of the Immigration Act, 2000, Act 573.