Indonesia: Police defend dropping peatland fire cases

The Jakarta Post 25 Oct 16;

The National Police have cited several reasons behind their controversial decision to terminate investigations into 15 companies previously charged for their alleged roles in the setting of peatland fires.

Criminal Investigation Department head Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto claimed that many of the fires had been caused by fires lit by locals that had expanded to areas belonging to the companies

“The companies also did whatever they could to put out the fires,” Ari said at a hearing held by House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal and human rights, reported.

He also argued that experts claimed that the articles under which the companies had been charged were no longer relevant.

The police have received 480 reports related to peatland fires since 2015. Most of them remain unresolved. Those who were brought to court, on the other hand, were mostly locals or low-level company officials.

Ex-Riau Police chief denies terminating 15 cases of forest fires
Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post 25 Oct 16;

Former Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Dolly Bambang Hermawan on Tuesday denied issuing terminations of investigation (SP3s) to 15 companies that were accused of being responsible for forest fires in the province.

Members of the House of Representatives’ committee investigating the forest fires on Tuesday sought clarification from Dolly about a statement made by Dolly’s successor, Brig. Gen Supriyanto, who said that the SP3s were issued when Dolly was still in charge.

Dolly stressed that out of 18 cases related to bush and forest fires during his term from August 2014 to March 2016, only three were SP3s.

"Three SP3s were [issued] in January when I was still a police chief, even though the issuance was under the police precinct's authority. I don't know about the other cases because I was no longer the police chief," Dolly told the lawmakers on Tuesday.

Dolly further explained that the three SP3s were issued by the Pelalawan police precinct since the force was the one that investigated the allegations, adding that he was sure that the SP3 documents were not issued carelessly as they were based on the facts and the testimonies of witnesses.

The committee's chairperson Benny K. Harman said during an earlier meeting, Supriyanto said he had no idea about the issuance of SP3s. (bbn)

House to crosscheck testimonies on halted forest fire investigations
Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post 26 Oct 16;

A House of Representatives committee investigating forest fires will crosscheck differing testimonies made by two former Riau Police chiefs — Insp. Gen. Dolly Bambang Hermawan and Brig. Gen. Supriyanto — about who issued letters to terminate investigations (SP3s) into 15 alleged forest burners.

"We will summon [the police officials] on Thursday along with the investigation team, so that we know who holds the real responsibility for the issuance of SP3s for 15 companies," committee member Syarifudin Sudding told journalists on Tuesday.

The plan arose following a Tuesday hearing, in which Dolly, who held office from August 2014 to March 2016, rejected a statement made by Supriyanto that Dolly was responsible for issuing the SP3s to stop investigating 15 companies accused of being responsible for forest fires.

Bambang and Supriyanto would be summoned alongside current Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Zulkarnain Adinegara to clarify the facts and stop the police officials from placing blame on each other, Sudding said.

Should Supriyanto — who previously claimed to have no idea about the SP3s as they were issued when Dolly served as police chief — be found guilty of providing false testimony to lawmakers, the House may recommend that National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian dismiss him from the force, Sudding said. (bbn)

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