Seven accused persons namely: Ibrahim Sheriff from Kailahun Town Lamin Sannoh of Hangha Town, Sandi Massaquoi a resident of Pujehun town, Keilfala Sheriff of Bo city, Ibrahim Koroma of Joru Town and Lamin Sannoh of Nomo Town were all over the weekend arraigned before the Presiding Magistrate Alhaji Sulaiman Koroma at the magistrate court in Kenema city with two counts of Illicit Mining and participating in a gathering not pertinent to Ebola.
The particulars of offence state that the seven accused persons on Thursday 6th November 2014 were arrested in the heart of the Gola Rain Forest National Park (GRNP) at Baoma town in the Nomo chiefdom and were engaged in Illicit Mining for Gold without lawful authority and were also found in a public gathering not pertinent to Ebola.
All seven accused stood trial for Illicit Mining contrary to section 18 (2) of cap 198 as amended by section 4 of act No. 46 of 1969: and participating in a gathering contrary to regulation 15 (1) of the public emergency regulation of 2014 constitutional instrument No. 5 of 2014.
Police prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent of Police Sahr Didi Lahai adducing evidence against the accused persons in court tendered the exhibits gathered at the scene of arrest which include, pick axes, shovels and head pans and cooking utensils.
All seven accused pleaded guilty to both counts and further pleaded with the bench to tamper justice with mercy, saying they are first time offenders and the present situation of the country prompted them into doing so. The magistrate reading his judgment reminded the seven accused that the Gola Rain Forest is a protected area to which Sierra Leone and Liberia have a joint communiqué for it’s protection and well meaningful Sierra Leoneans should not be seen flouting the laws of the country.
The seven men were each sentenced to six months imprisonment or an alternative fine of one million leones. As at presstime, they were reported as not having been able to raise money to enable them pay their fines.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.