Police urged to resume logging cases

EoF News / 11 February 2009

PEKANBARU (EoF News)— The National Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri told House of Representatives’ Law Commission that decision to close Riau illegal logging cases is final despite there is still a chance to resume them if new evidence available and court orders it.

House’s Commission III hosted hearing with the National Police at the Parliament compound in Jakarta on Monday (9/2/2009) discussing legal issues including controversial closure of illegal logging cases for 13 timber and pulp companies in Riau, Koran Tempo reported Tuesday (10/2/2009).

Riau Police had terminated legal action against 13 companies which associated to APP and APRIL on 22 December last year following the repeating rejection by Riau Prosecutors Office against the dossiers of 22-month old cases.

Bambang told the Law Commission that the Riau Prosecutors Office always rejected the dossiers submitted by the police due to qualifications of expert witnesses denied by the Attorney Office.

The Police Chief who participated in raiding pulp and timber companies in 2007 --when he was chief of the headquarters’ intelligence unit—said that the Prosecutors Office preferred witnesses coming from the Ministry of Forestry who later explained that there is no any environmental damage done by the 13 companies.

“If a witness says that there is no any damage [done], the case would be difficult to proceed,” Bambang Hendarso told the Commission, Koran Tempo reported (10/2/2009).

Last week the Commission III failed to meet the Riau Police Chief, Adjie Rustam Ramdja and only discussed with the Riau Prosecutors Office’s  Head, Suroso, Tribun Pekanbaru reported Tuesday (10/2/2009).

Azlaini Agus, parliamentarian from National Mandate Party (PAN), asked the National Chief Police not to rely upon the witness whom opted by the government’s ministry. “Court should conclude a witness is specialist or not,” she said at the hearing as quoted by Koran Tempo daily as saying.

Environmental NGOs in Riau believed that 14 companies could be prosecuted for their massive natural conversion to pulpwood plantation on forests that not allowed to clear as well as protected deep peat swamp forest.

Johny Setiawan Mundung, director executive of Walhi Riau, said that they would file a civil lawsuit against the police who closed the illegal logging cases in order to bring justice for the alleged perpetrators of environmental crime.

The 14 companies divided by the police into two groups of PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL), and of PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper (IKPP, a company associated to APP/Sinar Mas Forestry).
From IKPP are: PT. Satria Perkasa Agung, PT. Bina Duta Laksana, PT. Arara Abadi, PT. Suntara Gajapati, PT. Inhil Hutan Pratama, PT. Anugrah Bumi Sentosa and PT. Ruas Utama Jaya. The latter’s case proceeded to the court.

From RAPP are: PT. Madukoro, PT. RAPP, PT. Bukit Batabuh Sei Indah, PT. Nusa Prima Manunggal, PT. Citra Sumber Mandiri, PT. Mitra Kembang Selaras, and PT. Merbau Pelalawan Lestari.