Malaysian businessman sentenced plantation fire

Indonesia: Malaysian businessman sentenced for plantation fires 

31 August 2002

The Supreme Court hasupheld the Riau High Court’s decision to sentence a Malaysian businessman namedGoby to eight months imprisonment, and to fine him Rp 100 million (US$10,000)for ground fires that occurred at his palm oil plantation in the province in1999.

Rosian, chief of the legaldepartment of the local office of the Environmental Management Agency(Bapedalda), said his department had received the Supreme Court’s decision onWednesday but he did not know when the decision would be executed.

The sentence was lighterthan the verdict of the Pekanbaru District Court, which sentenced the defendantto two years imprisonment. The defendant, who is also president of PT AdeiPlantation and Industry, was found guilty of setting fires in his plantation incontravention of Law No. 23/1997 on the environment.

A total of 17 fires werefound when a team from the local Bapedalda office conducted an investigationinto the plantation.Goby rejected the trialcourt’s verdict and appealed to the High Court.Both Goby’s lawyer MohamatYahmin and the High Court said that they had yet to receive transcripts of theSupreme Court’s verdict.

Dipuan Siallagan,spokesman for the High Court, said the decision would be executed as soon as hereceived the transcript of the verdict. Indonesia has been blamedfor exporting haze on an annual basis to neighboring countries, especiallySingapore and Malaysia. Yahmin said that he wouldapply for a review of the Supreme Court’s ruling as the decision wasmisconceived.

“During the legalprocess in the local district court, none of the 12 witnesses gave testimonyimplicating my client. My client is only the general manager and was notdirectly involved in setting the fires,” Yahmin said.

Yahmin added that the casehad been politicized by the government in an attempt to escape blame for thethick haze that has annually affected a major part of Southeast Asia.

By Haidir Anwar Tanjung,The Jakarta Post, Riau
Source: The Jakarta Post,31 August 2002


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