Indonesia: Palm oil executive found guilty of starting land, forest fires

The Jakarta Post 9 Oct 18;

The Pekanbaru High Court in Riau has declared an executive of palm oil company PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa (JJP) guilty of burning 1,000 hectares of peatland in Rokan Hilir regency, Riau.

JJP plantation head Kosman Vitoni Immanuel Siboro was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 3 billion (US$ 196,914) in fines.

However, the company has challenged the court’s verdict by suing expert witnesses who were instrumental in providing scientific evidence throughout the trial.

Among them is Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) lecturer Bambang Hero Saharjo, who said the company’s lawsuit was “not based on [prevailing] law”.

“The court has to reject the lawsuit. Otherwise, expert witnesses would be less inclined to assist the government in the court,” Bambang was quoted by kontan.co.id as saying on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said on Monday that the ministry was committed to defending Bambang against the lawsuit.

Previously, the Rokan Hilir District Court imposed a Rp 1 billion fine on JJP, which was represented by company director Halim Gozali.

The Supreme Court’s cassation ruling also ordered JJP to pay an additional Rp 491.03 billion fine for environmental rehabilitation.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has imposed administrative sanctions on 518 companies involved in environmental crimes.

(rfa)

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