Indonesian govt to charge Malaysian company for haze fires

The Star 12 Jul 13;

JAKARTA: A Malaysian firm, believed to be responsible for forest fires in Sumatra, is set to face charges a day after the Riau administration lifted the haze disaster emergency status, the Indonesian National Police said, according to The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Police spokesperson Insp Gen Ronny F. Sompie said that the Malaysian company allegedly carried out irresponsible burning practices in its concession area in Riau.

“The company is responsible for the fire and has been declared a suspect, but we have not determined the company’s employees who were responsible for the burning,” he said at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.

Riau Police spokesman Adj Sr Comr Hermansyah said that they had questioned 16 witnesses in the case, from field workers to management-level employees.

“None have been named as the perpetrators of the fire in the company’s concession area.

"We do not want to rush the naming of the responsible parties,” he told The Jakarta Post in Pekanbaru on Thursday.

Hermansyah declined to mention the names and the positions of the witnesses.

If found guilty, those involved in the irresponsible practices could be charged under the 2002 Environment Law, the 1999 Forestry Law and the Criminal Code with a maximum penalty of 10-years imprisonment and 10bil Rupiah (RM3.2mil) in fines.

Previously, Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya suggested 14 companies were the source of forest fires in Riau, eight of those Malaysian-owned.
In June, the slash-and-burn fires created a severe haze that shrouded Singapore and Malaysia, prompting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue an apology to neighbouring countries. - ANN/The Jakarta Post