Newspaper accuses company of obstructing freedom of press

EoF News / 16 November 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)--- PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL),  sued Koran Tempo daily over reports saying the company allegedly involved in illegal logging practices in Riau.
The trial took place in South Jakarta District Court Thursday following the failure of mediation effort to resolve the conflict, Koran Tempo daily Friday (16/11/2007).
PT RAPP filed a lawsuit against the newspaper over defamation and affront charge following the reports published in July 2007. The pulp company sued the newspaper to pay compensation of Rp 1 billion for material cost and Rp 500 million for the immaterial one, Riau Terkini ( reported Thursday (15/11/2007).
PT Tempo Inti Media Harian, the company publishing the newspaper, sues back the Riau-based pulp company, Koran Tempo reported.   
Hendrayana, the lawyer of Tempo before the trial said that RAPP ‘s lawsuit against the newspaper is regarded as a move to obstruct the freedom of press.  
“Through this lawsuit, mass media will fear to tell something,” Hendrayana told the court. Therefore, Tempo asked the pulp company to apologize publicly. “This action is against the law,” the lawyer told as quoted by Koran Tempo as saying.
The media company also stated that the lawsuit is premature as it does not comply with the mechanism of press dispute settlement as stipulated by the Law on Press Number 40/1999.
“What Tempo reported [originating from] very credible source. Tempo tried to be outspoken in sharing information to public regarding to deforestation practices in Indonesia, hence it is not relevant if it is regarded as committing insult or defamation,” Hendrayana told the court as quoted by Riau Terkini.
Outside the court, scores of protesters from KAAPHI (Indonesian Committee for Action on Anti-Deforestation, staged rallies supporting Koran Tempo and urged the law enforcers to nab illegal logging perpetrators.