KPK deploys teams to Riau to probe corruption, illegal logging

EoF News / 13 May 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—One week following a visit of Riau Police Chief Sutjiptadi to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office last week, the commission soon deployed two teams this week to the province to probe the corruption case on logging license issuance involving Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar as well as to socialize corruption prevention campaign to local legislators.

Media reports said that KPK denied speculation that they were probing suspects of illegal logging cases involving government officials and executives of companies in Riau as two teams are visiting the province this week.
At a press conference held in Pekanbaru on Monday, Haryono Umar, the commission’s deputy of prevention, said that awareness campaign of corruption practices for local legislators is one of two agenda they hold recently, Riau reported (12/5/2008).

KPK would scrutinize suspects of illegal logging cases from the government officials, media reports said Monday, but Haryono refuted that speculation.

Beside, another team led by John Nababan went to Pelalawan yesterday to coordinate and supervise current illegal logging cases handled by Riau Police Office, Haryono said.

Haryono, accompanied by KPK spokesperson Johan Budi, admitted that investigating officers team is visiting Pelalawan district relating to enhance probe of Distric Head Azmun Jafar’s case that currently prosecuted by the KPK Corruption Court.

“Cases that the Riau Police to coordinate [with KPK] are many. But KPK is not focusing on handling [certain] cases. All [cases] we will tackle, so we are here not only for one or two cases,” Haryono told at the press conference on Monday, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported today (13/5/2008).

The visit of KPK teams are hailed by the Riau Police and Deputy Governor of Riau. Despite of the sudden visit, Sutjiptadi said that he appointed investigating officers of the police to assist the KPK team, Koran Tempo reported today (13/5/2008).

The chief who will leave his post this month said that KPK would take over corruption verdict on illegal logging cases in the province that had been probed by the police since February last year. “While, the matter of illegal logging and forest crimes the police will tackle,” he said as quoted by Koran Tempo.

Deputy Governor Wan Abubakar believed that KPK desperately would like to see the reality on the ground, Tempo reported. “Officials who could be involved should be probed,” he said.

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Haryono admitted that investigating officers team is visiting Pelalawan district relating to enhance probe of Distric Head Azmun Jafar’s case that currently prosecuted by the KPK Corruption Court.

Director Executive of Walhi Riau (Friends of Earth Indonesia), Johny Mundung hailed the visit of KPK teams to the province as he believed corruption scandals could be found on illegal logging cases. “Licenses issued by officials in Riau are ill-advised. We have the data on it,” Mundung said as quoted by Koran Tempo as saying Monday (12/5/2008).

Azmun prosecuted Prosecutors at Corruption Court in Jakarta on Friday (9/5/2008) accused Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar of causing the State’s loss to Rp 1.2 trillion for issuing logging licenses of 15 companies in the regency,

Prosecutor Muhammad Rum said Azmun could be sentenced to 20-year-imprisonment if he proved guilty on the case that probed by KPK, meanwhile Azmun told Koran Tempo daily (12/5/2008) that there are higher ranking officials who should be responsible in this case.

Defendant Azmun Jaafar on the trial said that he is not alone to issue the logging license for pulpwood plantation, therefore he urged KPK to bring other officials involving in the issuance including the governor of Riau and Minister of Forestry to the justice, Tribun Pekanbaru reported Monday (12/5/2008)

His lawyer, Amir Syamsudin, on the defendant’s demurrer to the trial, demanded judges of Corruption Court to prosecute witnesses of the case as defendants. The lawyer responded to lawsuit that read by the prosecutors saying that Azmun along with witnesses have caused the State’s loss to Rp.1,2 trillion by issuing logging licenses for 15 companies.

The witnesses mentioned by the prosecutors are former, current forestry service heads of Pelalawan District and Riau Province as well as the Governor, Riau Terkini website reported last week (9/5/2008).

 Kompas daily reported today (13/5/2008) that KPK hinted there could be more suspects on the case following defendant Azmun Jaafar, but Haryono and Johan declined to name them despite they admitted the suspects would be based on the indictment read by the prosecutors.

The indictment mentioned Lukman Jaafar (brother of Azmun), former Riau Forestry Service heads, Asral Rachman and Sudirno, as well as six companies affiliated to PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (APRIL’s subsidiary) and two affiliated to Sinar Mas Group (APP’s affiliated company), Kompas reported (13/5/2008).

Koran Tempo reported that Azmun’s gratification case is a part of cooperation between Riau Police and KPK. A letter submitted by the police to KPK said last week there could be alleged corruption practices found during the issuance of pulpwood plantation (HTI) licenses covering 1.7 million hectares area in the province, the daily reported Monday (12/5/2008).

The realization of HTI reaches 657,000 hectares and the rest is abandoned, the report said as the police suspected that the concession holders only to clear natural forest.

Mundung of Walhi Riau said that communities in the province suffered the loss caused by illegal logging therefore their shortfall should be calculated too by KPK. He appointed the involvement of two giant pulp and paper companies in Riau, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).  “KPK should probe them,” he said as quoted by Koran Tempo (12/5/2008).

On Azmun’s trial, the prosecutors said that the defendant along with Rosman, General Manager Forestry of PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL), who still at large, were involved allegedly to issue the pulpwood licenses for companies of PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari, PT Selaras Abadi Utama, PT Uniseraya, CV Putri Lindung Bulan, CV Tuah Negeri, CV Mutiara Lestari, PT Rimba Mutiara Permai, PT Mitra Tani Nusa Sejati, PT Bhakti Praja Mulia, PT Triomas FDI, PT Satria Perkasa Agung, PT Mitra Hutani Jaya, CV Alam Jaya, CV Harapan Jaya dan PT Madukoro (Riau Terkini, 9/5/2008).

Reports said that 7 of 15 companies have connection with Azmun personally, while the rest are affiliated to Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).