House's commission blasts prosecutors office

EoF News / 18 February 2009

PEKANBARU (EoF News)— House of Representative’s Law Commission criticized the Attorney General Office for blocking probe of illegal logging cases in Riau as the latter had no willingness to prosecute the alleged environmental crimes.

At a hearing at the parliament compound in Jakarta on Monday (16/2/2009) discussing the latest issues of law enforcement the Commission III asked the Attorney General Hendarman Supandji of controversial Riau illegal logging cases that closed by the police in December last year.

Maiyasyak Djohan, member of the Commission, said that the Riau illegal logging cases which involved 14 timber and pulp companies are not merely about forest destruction, but also timber theft, Bisnis Indonesia daily reported Tuesday (17/2/2009).

The Riau Police closed the cases of 13 companies and prosecuted another dossier of PT Ruas Utama Jaya, an associated company to APP/Sinar Mas Forestry. The Riau Police started probing cases of APP and APRIL associated companies in February 2007 when the chief was Sutjiptadi.

The police could not proceed the cases to the court due to the Riau Prosecutors Office rejected the dossiers. Hadiatmoko, the next Riau Police chief, then announced to public that the cases of 13 companies were closed due to the expert witnesses declared that there is no ecological damage caused by the timber and pulp companies.

”For two years the dossiers moved back and forth from the police to the prosecutors office. Is this not abused? Two years without legal accountability,” Mayasyak asked the Attorney General at the hearing, Kompas daily quoted as saying (17/2/2009).

The Commission also asked of the testimony presented by staff of the Forestry Ministry which became reference for the Prosecutors Office and Police to halt the cases.

Hendarman told the hearing that there is a Memorandum of Understanding among the police, the Attorney General Office and the Ministry of Forestry saying in handling forestry cases, the expert witness should be appointed from the Ministry, Hendarman said, Kompas daily reported (17/2/2009).

Suroso, head of Riau Prosecutors Office, told the hearing that the 13 companies had licenses to log the forest and paid the taxes to the government. They were not against the Law, he said.

Panda Nababan, member of the Commission, said that the Prosecutors Office should not reject expert witnesses whom proposed by the police. “Just proceed the dossiers to the court,” the parliamentarian from PDI Perjuangan party said at the hearing, Koran  Tempo reported (17/2/2009).

Chairman of House’s Law Commission, Trimedya Panjaitan, said that his group would set up a team to verify the issuance of SP3 (letter to closing cases) on the Riau illegal logging indictment.