Police: Discrepancy incites prosecution at standstill

EoF News / 11 December 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)— The Indonesian Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri admitted yesterday that discrepancy between his organization and the Prosecutors Office in interpreting forestry laws caused the progress on Riau illegal logging prosecution has been at stalemate for 22 months.

At a hearing with the House of Representatives (DPR) at Jakarta yesterday (10/12/2008) Bambang Hendarso said that there is different perception between the police and the Prosecutors Office in selecting expertise witnesses which incited the stagnancy, Republika daily reported (11/12/2008).

The Chief of Police also confirmed that the dossiers of the 14 companies had been submitted to the Attorney General Office, Riau Pos reported today (11/12/2008). The timber and pulp companies that allegedly clear natural forest and peat swamp forest are subsidiaries and partners of two giant pulp companies in Riau, APP and APRIL.

They include two pulp mills, PT Indah Kiat (APP/Sinar Mas Group associated company) and PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL), said Bambang Hendarso.

The police chief responded the criticism uttered by a member of parliament, Azlaini Agus, at the hearing that anti-gambling operation in Riau by the police is just a way conducted by the police to turn aside their failure in accomplishing illegal logging cases.

Azlaini urged the police to prioritize illegal logging cases that initiated by the police in Riau province as the cases were also handled by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) who found corruption allegations on the dossiers, Republika daily reported (11/12/2008).

Bambang Hendarso refuted that anti-gambling operation in Riau last month that nabbed Acin, a main suspect, as a way to turn aside the issue of illegal logging prosecution impasse.  “It is genuinely disclosed by new Riau Police Chief who directly lead the [anti-gambling] operation,” he told the Commission III of DPR, Republika reported.

He said that the illegal logging probe in Riau faced the obstacles where the Prosecutors Office regarded that the dossiers remained incomplete.

Meanwhile, at least 2,000 workers of PT RAPP, APRIL, and their associated companies staged rallies outside Riau Governor Office on Thursday (11/12/2008) demanding the government to prevent more lay offs in PT RAPP. At least 400 workers had been suspended by PT RAPP as the company announced they faced global crisis and shortage of pulp raw material, Riau Pos reported (11/12/2008).

It is the second action following the rallies in Pangkalan Kerinci on Wednesday (10/12/2008) when they met Pelalawan District Legislative Council and District Head. The workers also received by management of PT RAPP that led by Rudi Fajar, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported (11/12/2008).

DPRD Pelalawan’s Commission A and District Head Rustam Effendy promised the representatives of unions to convey their petition to the Riau Governor.

Media reports last month that PT RAPP urged the province government to demand the Ministry of Forestry to issue verification for their pulpwood licenses that previously issued by District Heads.

The company also urged the government to issue Annual Working Plan (RKT, an approval for forest clearing) as they faced shortage of pulp raw material due to illegal logging raids conducted by the police.

The issuance of permit and approval would avoid them from further workers suspension, Rudi Fajar told Riau Legislative Council and Riau Pronvincal Government at a meeting last month (Tribun Pekanbaru, 26 November 2008).

Lukman Situmorang, a local parliamentarian of DPRD Pelalawan, told the union representatives yesterday that massive lay offs might only occur if the companies considered bankrupt by the law (Tribun Pekanbaru, 11/12/2008). He also warned the protesters “not to be trapped in political matter.”