Indonesia: Attorney General’s Office to scrutinize prosecution in haze cases

Tama Salim, The Jakarta Post 7 Nov 15;

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has set up a team to help prosecutors at the provincial level handle cases of individuals and companies involved in forest and peatland fires.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo said that the team would supervise how ongoing cases were being handled to ensure they yielded optimum results.

“The team will supervise all provincial prosecutor’s offices in the country,” Prasetyo said.

He said that all stages of prosecution needed to be strengthened — from drafting the indictment until the actual prosecution — as forest and land-fire cases had caused massive damage and material losses.

Prasetyo, however, said that the progress of forest-fire cases would continue to largely depend on the investigations initiated by the National Police.

National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said earlier that several of the investigations into individuals allegedly involved in the forest burning had wrapped up and would soon be taken to court.

The police are currently working on 238 cases related to forest and peatland fires. Of the 238 cases, 191 involved individual perpetrators while 47 involved corporations, including a number of foreign companies.

The police have named 205 suspects in individual cases, and 11 suspects in the corporate cases. At least 72 people have been detained.

The AGO claimed to have only handled three cases pertaining to the forest fires, whereas regional prosecutor’s offices handled the rest.

Separately, the Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry has come up with preventive measures that the government could use to deal with peatland and forest fires.

According to Minister M. Nasir, the ministry will set up a national research consortium tasked to prevent the spread of forest and land fires, taking advantage of research that had been conducted by universities in the country.

Nasir said recommendations from research on forest fires had rarely been implemented.

“Every year, the forest fires continue to rage. That is why we are setting up a research consortium to optimize the work in implementing [recommendations from the research]. There will also be legal experts who’ll be able to explain what sanctions are called for in cases of intentional burning,” Nasir said at a press conference on Thursday.

The minister said that specific tasks would be divided among the participating institutions, according to their research field. Among the subjects are health, education and peatland management.

The initiative was a response to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s recent instruction to all relevant government institutions to start working on measures that could prevent the repeat of annual forest and peatland fires, with only eight months left before the next dry season starts.

Police name 26 suspects for burning land
The Jakarta Post 7 Nov 15;

PONTIANAK: West Kalimantan Police have declared 26 people suspects for allegedly burning tracts of land and forest, contributing to the widespread haze enveloping the province over the past few months.

“So far we have investigated 35 cases of land and forest fire and we have declared 26 people, all individuals, not from companies, as suspects in these cases,” West Kalimantan Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Arianto said in Pontianak on Friday.

Arianto said police had completed dossiers on five of 26 suspects while the remaining 21 suspects were still being questioned.

“We are also investigating four cases of land and forest fire that, allegedly, involve corporations,” he added as quoted by Antara news agency, before adding that two of the cases involved corporations PT SKM and PT KAL in Ketapang regency, PT PJP in Kubu Raya regency and PT RKJ, a foreign investment firm in Melawi regency.