Riau Governor tried for issuing permits to pulp suppliers

EoF News / 11 November 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) - The first trial on corruption cases involving Riau Governor Rusli Zainal who allegedly paid bribe in PON 2012 national games scandal and accepted bribery in issuing forest logging permits  for pulp and paper timber suppliers held on last Wednesday  (6/11) in Pekanbaru Corruption Court.

In defence, Rusli, who still serves as Governor during the trial, questioned why the court could not bring the justice to timber suppliers who also bribed other five Riau officials whom now in jail.

Rusli was accused of issuing logging licenses to nine suppliers of APRIL and APP pulp giants which caused the  State loss to IDR 265 billions. While, forestry regulation says that Province’s Forestry Service Head who has right to issue and approve permit to clear natural forest for industrial timber plantation development.

At the first trial, Prosecutors led by Riyono revealed Rusli’s indictment in issuing Annual Work Plan (RKT ) permits back in January 2003 as RZ ordered Siak District Head Arwin A.S to issue IUPHHK RKT logging permit to PT Seraya Sumber Lestari, a supplier of APRIL, Mongabay.co.id reported.   

Rusli was detained since for allegations of paying and accepting bribe during the National Games PON XVIII as well as allegations of authority abuse associated to the issuance of IUPHHK HT Work Chart (long-term logging permit) in Pelalawan and Siak districts.

The suppliers who cleared the forest for conversion to pulpwood plantation related to cases of two officials who were found guilty in issuing logging permits, namely Tengku Azmun Jaafar (Pelalawan District Head) and Arwin A.S (Siak District Head).

Riyono told that the Prosecutors would summon management of nine companies linked to Rusli’s corruption cases, namely PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari, PT Mitra Taninusa Sejati,  PT Rimba Mutiara Permai, PT Selaras Abadi Utama, CV Bhakti Praja Mulia,  CV Putri Lindung Bulan, PT Seraya Sumber Lestari (all seven are APRIL suppliers) as well as two APP suppliers,  PT Mitra Hutani Jaya and  PT Satria Perkasa Agung.

“The defendant’s act that has cost the state Rp 265 billion should charged him under  Article 2, paragraph 1 or Article 3 of Law No. 20/2001 in conjunction with Article 55 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code to-1, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, "said Riyono as quoted on Tribunnews.

The defendant  was risked multiple penalties as he had commited the acts of corruption in a way to make money for himself and others that caused hundreds billion loss to the State.

After the indictment reading by the prosecutor, the defendant—through his attorney—implied rebuttal by accusing KPK had criminalized the Governor.  “KPK only criminalised such a case in Riau meanwhile in other provinces, there are so many similar cases that not prosecuted,” one of Rusli Zainal’s attorney, Rudi Alfonso defended. “It was Syuhada Tasman who brought the defendant to his problem, because at that time, the defendant was just a new governor who did not know about any of this, so the problem was already there before he served as governor,” Alfonso added as quoted on Tribun News.

In addition, Rusli’s team also questioned justice over other institutions and the companies mentioned for giving the bribes which are free outside meanwhile he and other officials are in put into jail. RZ through his attorneys also said what happen to him is “ironic” since other permits which are also violating the law were issued by the Ministry of Forestry and still nothing happens to the MoF, media reports said.

At large

Jikalahari coordinator, Muslim Rasyid, said that KPK should also investigate people from companies, either from APP, APRIL and their suppliers whom involved with cases of those officials. “It is unfair to see that a manager from APRIL’s PT RAPP could escape and remain at large for years despite the court’s witnesses citing that man as key person who knows much the bribery and forest corruption cases,” said Muslim to EoF News in June.

EoF learns that Roosman is a manager from APRIL’s PT RAPP who has been at large since the probe of forest corruption which first jailed Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar in 2009. “There are several directors and managers of APRIL and APP timber suppliers whom could be prosecuted and jailed, if KPK keeps going on the right track,” said Muslim.

Riko Kurniawan, newly elected Director Executive of WALHI Riau chapter, said that he appreciated the move made by KPK to bring Rusli to justice, but the case of forest corruption should go further to probe officials from Ministry of Forestry as annual cutting licenses and five-yearly cutting plans might involve persons in the organization as well as people in APP and APRIL timber suppliers.

“This RZ [Rusli Zainal] case is getting close to persons in the Ministry’s Office and corporates of APP and APRIL due to licenses deforesting Riau forests,” Riko said. “It can be an entry to reveal pandora box of forest crimes in the country, so we support KPK to keep moving forward.”