The four-and-a-half-year sentence accompanied by a GH₵48,000 fine has sparked public debate, prompting Tuah-Yeboah to provide a comprehensive explanation.
According to Tuah-Yeboah, Huang faced charges related to her involvement in illegal mining activities spanning from 2015 to 2017 when the amended law had not yet been enacted.
The Deputy Attorney General stressed that upon her return to Ghana in 2022, there was no evidence supporting her engagement in illegal mining activities. This lack of post-2017 evidence played a pivotal role in the sentencing decision.
“When we arrested her last year , there was no evidence that when she came back to Ghana, she committed illegal mining offences. We probed into it, and we didn't find any evidence. If there had been, it would have been another matter,” Tuah-Yeboah emphasized.
This clarification comes in response to public scrutiny, with some questioning the severity of Huang's punishment given the ecological damage caused by her ‘galamsey' operations. Tuah-Yeboah, appearing on JoyNews' PM Express, explained that the case heavily relied on evidence gathered between 2015 and 2017, including testimonies from local farmers who claimed Huang had negotiated with them for the use of their land in illegal mining activities.
Commending the Ghana Immigration Service for their role in arresting Huang in 2018 before her deportation, Tuah-Yeboah reiterated that the law operates based on evidence rather than speculation.
The prosecution's case, he emphasized, was built on the evidence available during the specified time frame.
Responding to queries about the application of the new law and its punishments, Tuah-Yeboah clarified that the judge had adhered to the appropriate sentencing guidelines. As Huang committed the crimes under the old law, the judge applied the maximum punishment stipulated by the previous legislation.
“If you have a new law that has reduced the punishment under the old law, use it. But if the old law is lesser than the new law, use the old law; that is the law,” Tuah-Yeboah explained.
Although expressing the Attorney General's office's desire for a harsher sentence, Tuah-Yeboah acknowledged that the judge followed constitutional provisions and the interpretation act.
He highlighted the amended Minerals and Mining Act, which not only enhances penalties for illegal mining but also explicitly criminalizes aiding and abetting such activities.
In contrast, he cited recent cases where Ghanaian nationals were sentenced under the amended law.
The convictions were based on violations of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995).