Minister of Forestry blames Riau Police over corporate crimes

EoF News / 21 June 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)--- The Minister of Forestry Malam S. Kaban slammed the Riau Police over probing against forest crimes allegedly perpetrated by companies saying the law enforcers should not meedle with the "government's area."

Local media said that the Minister of Forestry Kaban has warned the provincial police not to probe the companies who granted the authority's licenses for illegal logging probe. "The [Riau] provincial police should halt the activity of companies whose no licenses only, not like today they also grab the license-granted companies. It definitely misses the target," Minister Kaban told the press in Jakarta Wednesday.

Riau Police Office have been summoning Riau-based timber and pulp companies which associated to both Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL) over illegal logging and forest crimes allegations. This week Riau Terkini website reported that at least 10 companies associated to APP have been indicted with illegal logging and other environmental crimes.

Kaban said his ministry has been eradicating illegal logging practices which only against the companies who have no permits. "I also remind the personnel of Riau Police of not meddling with the government's area too far," he warned as quoted by Riau Terkini as saying.

Meanwhile, Azwar Chesputra, a House of Representatives (DPR) member, suggested the Riau Police and the Forestry Service should work together in tackling the illegal logging cases, Riau Tribune daily reported.

"In eradicating illegal logging, the police has their own area, that is in criminal one," said Azwar adding that the administrative matter is the authority of the Ministry of Forestry.

In another development, the police summoned two former heads of Riau forestry service on Tuesday over issuance of logging licenses to APP's subsidiary PT Arara Abadi and other companies.

Earliear this week hundreds of indigeneous Sakai people staged a rally in Pekanbaru protesting PT Arara Abadi who have been occupying their tenure land since 1990s for acacia plantation (HTI) conversion.