PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Riau Police stops probing illegal logging cases that involved 13 timber and pulp companies as there is no convincing allegation to proceed the dossiers to prosecution.
Riau Police issued a letter to terminate probe of illegal logging cases that they initiated 22 months ago. Riau Police Chief Brig.-Gen. Hadiatmoko along with Head of Riau Prosecutors Office, Suroso, held a press conference here yesterday (22/12/2008) following their closed meeting in exposing the cases.
Then both announced the suspension of legal action against the companies that associated to APP and APRIL pulp giants, media reported.
All newspapers in Pekanbaru, capital city of Riau Province, put the report as headlines today (23/12/2008) as well as a leading national newspaper, Kompas daily.
Hadiatmoko said that PT Ruas Utama Jaya, one of 14 companies that probed due to illegal logging and environmental cases, would be prosecuted as it had no license for logging operation, Kompas daily reported. PT RUJ is associated to APP/Sinar Mas Group and located in Senepis, an important forest block for Sumatran tiger.
“Based upon information from the Ministry of Environment, there is no any environmental damage made, and based upon the Ministry of Forestry, the companies do not violate the Forestry Law as they have license, except for PT RUJ which has no the license,” Hadiatmoko said.
The Riau Police led by Sutjiptadi early 2007 started to launch anti-illegal logging operation to companies affiliated to APP and APRIL where more than 200 people named suspects including the executives of timber and pulp companies.
Since the raids there is no logging operation conducted by the companies in natural forest that designated for pulp plantation. Sutjiptadi then replaced by Hadiatmoko in May 2008 amid speculation that the substitution occurred due to pressure from persons who dislike the police chief.
Suroso told the press that the police are not able to prove “the part of against the law” in the accused dossiers.
Some NGOs activists protested the termination of illegal logging cases. Johny Setiawan Mundung, Director Executive of Walhi Riau said he regretted the decision made by the police which only side the interest of companies and authorities while ignoring the sustainability of ecology, Detik.com website reported (22/12/2008).\
Mundung said that it is a backlash for the province as the police stopped the legal action against the companies due to some cliché reasons. During Sutjiptadi’s leadership, the Riau Police had ever proposed permit to the Indonesian President to probe Riau Governor and four District Heads. EoF learned that there is no permit given by the President to the police to question the officials.
Meanwhile, Zulfahmi, a Greenpeace campaigner, said that the police should not halt the legal action by issuing the termination letter as the fact on the ground proved that the 14 companies violating the Environmental Law by deforestation. He said some pulp companies even cleared natural forest in deep peat for pulp plantation, Detik.com reported (22/12/2008). He urged the police to review the suspension.
Riau province has lost over 4 million hectares of forest within last 25 years (65% of total natural forest size). The forest cover decreased from 78% in 1982 to 27% nowadays. Deforestation between 2005-2006 is 286,146 ha, or the forest lost by 11% in one year!
EoF learns that the concession that ever probed by the police located in remaining forest block and landscape where habitat of endangered Sumatran tiger and elephant exist.