Indonesia to re-investigate 15 firms suspected of causing Riau forest fires

Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 28 Jul 16;

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed authorities to re-evaluate cases involving 15 companies who were let off after being identified as suspect for causing forest fires in Riau province last year.

Head of Presidential Staff Teten Masduki told reporters on Thursday (Jul 28) that he has informed the president about the cases, and that Mr Widodo has asked national police chief Tito Karnavian, and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar to follow up on them.

“I have reported to the president, and the president asked me to speak with the national police chief, and the Environment and Forestry Minister. As this concerns the law, we have to be careful about any intervention because the law in the region is autonomous,” Mr Teten was quoted as saying by online news portal

Last week, Riau district police stopped investigations into the companies due to a lack of evidence.

Senior Commissioner Rivai Sinambela, Director for Special Criminal Investigation, Riau police district had said that the cases did not demonstrate intent nor negligence.

He added the fires happened on land which could be owned by the community, and not on areas belonging to companies.

Mr Teten said he visited Riau last week to ensure that measures are in place to tackle any incidents of forest fires, and he was surprised upon learning that police had stopped investigations into the 15 companies.

“If there is other evidence related to the cases, it’s possible for (the investigation) to be opened again," Mr Teten said.

- CNA/nc

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