Court acquits North Sumatra timber tycoon

EoF News / 09 November 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)-- The acquittal of illegal logging defendant in North Sumatra, Adelin Lis, was marred with protests as further legal actions prepared to nab the man at large.

The Indonesian President has backed up Attorney General Office to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, Koran Tempo daily reported Friday (9/11/2007.

Meanwhile, Speaker of House of Representatives (DPR) asked President Yudhoyono to call Minister of Forestry, Malam S. Kaban, who allegedly intervened the court process and contribute to the judges’ decision to acquit the defendant from conviction (Koran Tempo, 9 Nov 2007)  

Medan district court on Monday had decided that Adelin Lis, the finance director PT PT Keang Nam Development Indonesia, was not found guilty of causing deforestation in Madina forest area of North Sumatra. Prosecutors previously sued the defendant to 10-year imprisonment and fine for the loss of deforestation caused.

Attorney General Hendarman Supandji met President Yudhoyono on Thursday discussing the acquittal of Adelin. “Mr.President only said that the action conducted by the Attorney General Office should be proceeded. I just addressed the attempt of normative law that should be implemented,” he said as quoted by Kompas daily (9/11/2007) as saying.

The Attorney General Office would undertake an examination next week to its prosecutors handling the case before filing an appeal to the Supreme Court, Kompas daily reported.

The Indonesian Police Headquarters believed that Adelin Lis involved in illegal logging, therefore the institution would prosecute him with money laundering verdict, said the spokesperson, Sisno Adiwinoto, on Tuesday, Kompas daily (7/11/2007) reported.

Environmentalists blasted the decision made by judges of Medan district court by acquitting Adelin and said that the recommendation letter provided by Minister Kaban had influenced the judges to free the defendant who is not at large.

Scores of students in Medan, North Sumatra, staged a rally in the District Court office Thursday  when they urged the judicative agency to sack the judges releasing Adelin, Koran Tempo reported Friday.

Adnan Buyung Nasution, senior lawyer and Presidential Advisory Board member, suggested President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to dismiss Minister Kaban. “He [Kaban] is the originator of reason for judges to decided freeing [the defendant],” Adnan Buyung told Thursday, Koran Tempo reported Friday (9/10/2007).

Minister Kaban sent a recommendation letter to the District Court judges on 27 September 2006, which Adnan said it became the reference by the judges to set free Adelin Lis from verdict. “Issuing a letter is just wrong. That is intervention from executive to the court,” he said. 

Minister Kaban was not available to comment, Koran Tempo reported. Soon after the court’s decision, Kaban told media that the decision is normal as he has reminded before. “It’s only an administrative breach,” he added.

On its editorial, Kompas daily said Friday (9/11/2007) that illegal logging case is handled amid legal conflict between the police and Minister of Forestry.

“Even, in a court of Adelin case, Minister of Forestry M.S Kaban wrote a letter sent o Adelin’s lawyer: that violation in this case is administrative one. The letter is used by lawyer and the Minister of Forestry’s opinion adopted by judges. Perhaps, the release of Adelin is result of conflict of interest that subsequently used,” the Kompas editorial said.