Indonesia: Forest fire suspect freed from charges

Jakarta Post 11 Jun 16;

The Pangkalan Kerinci District Court has declared Frans Katihotang, who was accused of causing forest and land fires, not guilty on all charges.

“The defendant was not proven guilty,” chief judge I Dewa Gede Budhy Dharma Asmara said Friday, reading out the verdict.

The chief judge ordered state prosecutors to release Frans from detention and to rehabilitate his name and dignity. One judge, Ayu Amelia, however, voiced a dissenting opinion.

At an earlier court hearing, prosecutors charged the defendant with negligence for an act that eventually caused the fires, but the panel of judges said witness testimony did not support the charges.

On the contrary, according to the testimony of witnesses, the defendant directly led the effort to extinguish the fires that broke out on July 27, 2015. With the help of locals and the use of fire extinguishers belonging to his company, PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo, the fires were put out by July 31.

In addition, an expert witness from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said the hotspots were outside the company’s concession area.

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