Indonesia: Hackers Strike District Court Website After Not Guilty Verdict in Forest Fire Case

Nivell Rayda Jakarta Globe 3 Jan 16;

Jakarta. The website for a South Sumatra district court has reportedly been hacked, days after issuing a not guilty verdict against one of the plantation companies accused of slash-and-burn practices that destroyed two million hectares of forests and caused debilitating haze.

The Palembang District Court has been criticized for ruling in favor of Bumi Mekar Hijau last week, dismissing accusations made by the Ministry of Forestry and Environment that it purposely burned forests in its own concession area to make way for oil palms during the 2014 drought season.

The same company was also accused of the same practices during last year's forest fires, which resulted in choking haze that for months affected hundreds of thousands of people in Kalimantan, Sumatra and neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.

The case for this year's slash-and-burn practices against the company has not been brought to trial.

The court's website was inaccessible on Sunday with a note saying that it is “under maintenance” on its homepage.

Hours before the website went down, hackers replaced the site's content with criticisms of the ruling.

The hackers, claiming to be victims of the haze, wrote they are “gravely disappointed at the judges' decision to reject the government's civil lawsuit against a company burning down the forest.”

“Perhaps it is I who doesn't understand the law, but I truly understand what it feels to breath amid a choking haze. My breath was taken away once more when I heard the decisions made by the judges,” the hackers wrote.

The government had demanded the company pay a fine of Rp 2.6 trillion ($187.9 million) as well as conduct an environmental restoration on the damages done during the 2014 forest fires, worth another Rp 5.2 trillion.

The court, presided over by judge Parlas Nababan, however said the government failed to prove the company was directly responsible for the fire.

The court also dismissed claims of environmental damage done in the company's concession area, pointing to a testimony of an expert brought in by BMH that the area “can still be replanted by trees.”

The government is appealing the decision, the ministry's director general for enforcement Rasio Ridho Sani told Tempo on Sunday.

“We will appeal to protect the rights of people affected by the haze disaster and fulfill their demand for justice,” he said.

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