Monday, December 29, 2008

NGOs plan to sue the police for closing cases

NGOs plan to sue the police for closing cases
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
PEKANBARU (EoF News)— Environmental groups slammed the Riau Police and Prosecutors Office who closed the cases of 13 timber and pulp companies and pledged it would sue the police for the suspension.

Jikalahari coordinator, Susanto Kurniawan, said yesterday (23/12/2008) that his environmental NGOs network would prepare lawyers to take action against the police’s decision, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported Wednesday (24/12/2008).

The Riau Police Chief Hadiatmoko announced in Riau Prosecutors Office, Pekanbaru, on Monday that the police halted the probe of illegal logging cases of 13 companies and proceeded another pulpwood plantation company to prosecution. Hadiatmoko said that the witnesses from two ministries explained that the companies had legal license and there is any damage done by the firms.

Susanto said that his network who filed the cases to the police last year admitted that the companies had legal licenses of pulpwood development, but they had flaws as the licenses issued by District Head which against the Government Regulation Number 34/2002, Kompas daily reported (24/12/2008).

In separate occasion, parliamentarian from Riau, Azlaini Agus, of House of Representatives’ Commission III, said she had met Indonesia Police Chief, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri, in Jakarta on Tuesday discussing the cases closure, Tribun Pekanbaru reported today (24/12/2008).

Azlaini said that Bambang Hendarso told her that the decision is conducted by the Riau Police due to the Riau Prosecutors Office rejected the presence of two expert witnesses proposed by the police who come from Institute of Agriculture of Bogor (IPB) and University of Gadjah Mada (UGM).

She said that the Prosecutors Office should accept the two witnesses as previously occurred in a North Sumatera’s District Court which prosecuted Adelin Lis, a businessman who charged with and penalized for illegal logging verdict.

“It [the decision] is weird,” she said adding that the Prosecutors Office should had accepted the existence of two expert witnesses and proceeded the prosecution to the court.

Azlaini suspected there might be a grand ‘scenario’ behind the termination of illegal logging cases involving the 13 companies by the police, Tribun daily reported. She said that Riau timber companies recently met Vice President Jusuf Kalla where PT RAPP (APRIL’s subsidiary) complained that it would lay off thousands of workers due to the company faced shortage of pulp raw material.

Meanwhile, Johny Setiawan Mundung of Walhi Riau, urged the government to dismiss the Chief of Riau Police and Riau Prosecutors Office following the decision to close the environmental cases. “They harmed the sense of justice of Riau people,” Johny Mundung told Koran Tempo daily (24/12/2008).

In Jakarta, Minister of Forestry Malam Sambat Kaban said his office respected the police decision to issue a Letter of Order to Stop Investigations (SP3) into the companies, The Jakarta Post reported (24/12/2008).

"However, we hope the legal action taken against the businessmen (from the firms) continues," he said to Antara in Jakarta on Tuesday.

President Yudhoyono

Spokesperson of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Andi Alfian Mallarangeng, told the press yesterday in Jakarta that the President didn’t know that the police had closed the Riau illegal logging cases, reported (23/12/2008).

In September 2007, President Yudhoyono had set up a joint inter-departmental team to tackle Riau illegal logging cases in mediating the discrepancies occurred between the police and the Ministry of Forestry. The team then recommended in November 2007 there should be legal action taken against the 14 companies.

The 14 companies divided by the police into two groups of PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL), and of PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper (IKPP, a company associated to APP/Sinar Mas Forestry).

From IKPP are: PT. Satria Perkasa Agung, PT. Bina Duta Laksana, PT. Arara Abadi, PT. Suntara Gajapati, PT. Inhil Hutan Pratama, PT. Anugrah Bumi Sentosa and PT. Ruas Utama Jaya. The latter’s case proceeded to the court.

From RAPP are: PT. Madukoro, PT. RAPP, PT. Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT. Nusa Prima Manunggal, PT. Citra Sumber Mandiri, PT. Mitra Kembang Selaras, and PT. Merbau Pelalawan Lestari.