NGOs urge KPK not to make distinctions

EoF News / 10 September 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Environmental groups in Riau urged Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) not to be discriminating in prosecuting those who allegedly involved in corruption case of Riau logging licenses.

The organizations such as Walhi Riau and Jikalahari (NGOs network for Riau forest rescue) said that KPK should also prosecute Riau officials as the trial faced by inactive Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar  indicated that there  are more suspects  beyond him.

In recent development of the trial, Azmun lawyers called the KPK judges on Tuesday (9/9/2008) to free the defendant from any indictment.

The lawyers from Amir Syamsuddin and Partners said that 15 logging licenses issued by the defendant would be nothing without legality issued by the provincial forestry service called Rencana Kerja Tahunan (RKT/Annual Working Plan), Riau Pos daily reported today (10/9/2008).

Azmun was charged by Prosecutors of KPK with a sentence to 12-year imprisonment last month as he defended last week before the Corruption Crime Court in Jakarta that he was victimized by a conspiracy.

Executive Director of Walhi Riau Jhony Setiawan Mundung said that RKTs approved by former governor Rusli Zainal obviously against the laws and allegedly indicated as gratification indictment, Koran Tempo reported Monday (8/9/2008).

Mundung urged the anti-corruption commission to highly consider the testimony presented by Rusli admitting that he has signed RKT approval allowing 10  companies to clear the natural forest.

"Up to date, KPK has yet to take action. So, naturally there is impression [KPK is] discriminating,” he told Tempo as quoted as saying.

Mundung also urged KPK to probe those who bribed the officials. “In this case, KPK should not only detain those who received the bribe, but also ones who give it. If KPK is persistent to probe [it], it will be clear who bribed is,” Mundung told Suara Pembaruan (9/9/2008) as quoted as saying.

Susanto Kurniawan, Coordinator of Jikalahari, said he was surprised that Rusli is still not prosecuted despite KPK prosecutors at Azmun’s trial cited Rusli breached Minister of Forestry Decree Number 6652/KPTS-n/2002 stipulating RKT issuance authority lies on Provincial Forestry Service Head.

Haryono Umar, a KPK deputy, said that the involvement of Rusli Zainal in corruption case of logging license issuance remains examined. “He is not a suspect yet, still a witness,” he told the daily (8/9/2008).

Rusli who is campaigning for his governor nomination was not available to comment.

Meanwhile, Jikalahari and Walhi supported an initiative launched by Riau Governor Wan Abubakar to hold logging moratorium in the province. Susanto of Jikalahari said in a press release last week (5/9/2008) that the logging moratorium to clear natural forest is the government’s response to get rid of suffering caused by forest conversion and peat degradation.