KPK, Riau Police cooperate to tackle illegal logging cases

EoF News / 07 May 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and Riau Police Office would synchronize efforts to tackle environmental crime inquiries in the province as the reshuffled chief of police met the popular institution early this week, reports said.

Riau Police Chief Brig.- Gen. Sutjiptadi, who will soon leave his post, was invited by KPK on Monday in Jakarta to discuss the update of “illegal logging cases” allegedly involved two pulp and paper companies as well as the government officials.

KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said that some of illegal logging dossiers were submitted by the Riau Police Chief during the meeting. “To see whether there are corruption verdict or not,” Johan said as reported by Koran Tempo daily today (7 May 2008).

“From data [we] received, there is 1.2 million hectares of [Riau’s] forest that cleared and abandoned,” he said.

Johan said Sutjiptadi -who was reshuffled to Governor of Police Academy in Semarang of Central Java- admitted that some problems found in his effort to probe illegal logging cases in Riau.

Tempo mentioned that Riau Police Office handed over alleged corruption cases to KPK relating to logging licenses issued for 1.7 million hectares of pulpwood plantation (HTI).

The realization for HTI is only 657,000 hectares where the rest is abandoned as the police suspected that the concession holders just wanted to clear natural forest, the police report quoted by Koran Tempo (7/5/2008).

Riau Terkini website reported Monday (5/5/2008) that KPK and Sutjiptadi only coordinated to identify progress report and obstruction found in finishing the probe.

KPK tackles corruption case which involved Pelalawan District Head, Azmun Jaafar,  who has issued logging licenses where it is not his authority. Azmun Jaafar has been detained in Jakarta by KPK since December last year.

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“We only handle Pelalawan case, while other districts in Riau [we] haven’t done yet. Therefore KPK need guidance for other cases, that is the aim of coordination recently,” Johan Budi said as quoted by Riau Terkini (5/5/2008).

The newly-appointed chief of Riau Police, Brig.- Gen. Hadiatmoko, would continue the coordination with KPK, the spokesperson said.

Johny Mundung, Director Executive of Walhi Riau, an environmental NGO, hailed the handing over of illegal logging cases to KPK which would raise a new hope for Riau community, he said as reported by Koran Tempo. “Legal process by the police is so slow and uncertain,” he said.

Susanto Kurniawan, coordinator of Jikalahari, the Riau NGOs network, said that illegal loggers get protection from political party elites and politicians.

Meanwhile, last week police have found 3,872 logs which they claimed as illegal in the banks of canal in Kampar Peninsula forest block or in Sungai Aras, Pelalawan district. The logs belonged to CV Alam Lestari, a company affiliated to Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), Koran Tempo reported (5/5/2008).

The police said CV Alam Lestari cleared the natural forest based on logging license issued by detained Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar. Therefore they seized the logs and would probe its director.

CV Alam Lestari claimed that their logs are legal and it has paid tax and provision to the government.  “We hope the police to release our client’s logs. Unless, we would take a civil lawsuit,” said Juniver Girsang, its lawyer last week (Kompas 30/4/2008).

Thousand of logs were also found in Sungai Galang River, Desa Mentulik of Kampar district which believed coming from Tesso Nilo protected forest (Koran Tempo, 2/5/2008).

Hariansyah Usman, deputi coordinator of Jikalahari, said that illegal logging operation in protected area continue to occur due to the law enforcement is still in stalemate.