Azmun: I am a victim of conspiracy

EoF News / 03 September 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Defendant of corruption case for issuing logging licenses in Pelalawan District, Azmun Jaafar, said he was set to be victim of conspiracy and asked the Judges to also prosecute other officials involving in the issuance.

On a session of reading his defense, the inactive Pelalawan District Head told Corruption Court in Jakarta Tuesday (2/9/2008) that former Riau forestry service heads, former Riau Governor and Minister of Forestry should be responsible too as they issued and verified annual working plans (RKT) to 15 forestry companies, which are reference for issuing timber plantation logging licenses (IUPHHK-HT), media reports said today (3/9/2008).

Last week the prosecutors of the court sued the former district head with a 12-year imprisonment, as well as to pay penalties amount to Rp12,5 billion.

“I am victimized, and I see there is a wicked and nasty conspiracy among certain groups who want to ruin my reputation through this case,” he said as quoted by Riau Mandiri daily (3/9/2008).

The conspiracy will be revealed if relevant witnesses presented in the trial. “If only witness Rosman from RAPP could be presented in this trial, I believe there will be more facts can be uncovered,” he said.

RAPP stands for Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, a Pelalawan-based company, affiliated to Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL). The defendant said Rosman played a key role representing the interest or RAPP in any decision to take over Azmun family’s companies or to hold joint operation.

Rosman is at large now. EoF learns that Rosman is believed a Forestry Manager of PT RAPP and an influential executive for APRIL operation in Sumatra island.

“It’s important I state here that timber plantation licensing is an incomplete chain of process when IUPHHK-HT license issued by the District Head. There are still subsequent process should be through by concession holder before conducting operation on the ground,” he told the court as quoted by Kompas daily (3/9/2008) as saying.

Azmun believed that there is no loss inflicted to the State by IUPHHK-HT he issued because “there is no logging operation and forest utilization solely based on IUPHHK-HT license.”

The license is not automatically allowing the logging operation by concession holder. Annual working plan (RKT) proposed by the holder and legalized by provincial forestry service head, he added.

“The officials who legalized RKTs are Syuhada Tasman, Asral Rachman, Burhanuddin Husin, and M. Rusli Zainal as Governor of Riau,” Azmun said as quoted by Kompas daily (3/9/2008) as saying.

The first three officials are former Riau forestry service heads whom named suspects by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), while Rusli Zainal resigned from his position for running for the gubernatorial election held this month.

Azmun told the court that the Ministry of Forestry should verify and conduct administrative and technical service to the 15 timber plantation licenses he issued, but the concession holders previously had proposed RKT to be legalized by the provincial forestry service.

Therefore, Azmun said, RKTs were issued to allow the companies to clear the forest before the licenses were verified by the Ministry. He said Riau Forestry Service Heads proposed a RKT dispensation to Minister of Forestry Malem Sambat Kaban who then approved the proposal, which Azmun regarded its process “did not comply with technical regulations,” Tribun Pekanbaru daily (3/9/2008) reported.

“Dispensation does not refer to regulations, but much more policy in fulfilling the industry’s demand to wood raw material,” he said as quoted by Kompas .com (3/9/2008) as saying.

After the defense reading, Azmun called on the Minister of Forestry to be responsible. “In general, forestry problems in Indonesia under responsibility of Minister of Forestry. The responsibility at lower levels is his too, including granting licenses,” Azmun said as quote by Riau Mandiri as saying.

He said the process for issuing logging licenses involving several parties including Pelalawan District Forestry Service, Riau Forestry Service, and Minister of Forestry.