Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Timber baron acquitted over illegal logging

It is cases like this which bring shame on the Indonesian government. At the end of this article are details of people you may like to express your views to. The email addresses are those posted on web sites but I have not yet had time to check them. If you have any difficulty, please let me know. sw@naturealert.org

Timber baron acquitted over illegal logging

Mark Forbes, JakartaNovember 7, 2007

IN THE latest and most significant case in a string of controversial acquittals, an Indonesian timber baron has walked away from illegal logging charges, prompting an outcry from environmentalists.

The release of Adelin Lis undermines Indonesia's bid to have December's United Nations climate change conference in Bali support a multibillion-dollar program to prevent deforestation.
Because of logging, land clearing and forest degradation, Indonesia is the world's third-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It wants the Bali meeting to endorse Indonesia piloting the new program to become part of a renegotiated Kyoto Protocol.

Forest Minister Malam Kaban, who this week urged governments and international organisations to support the program, had tried to intervene in the police investigation of Mr Lis.

A letter from Mr Kaban presented to Mr Lis' trial claimed that the logging by Mr Lis' companies was not a crime but "a mere administrative violation".

Police have seized millions of logs cut illegally in Sumatra, but Mr Kaban has complained that this is harming the province's large pulp and paper industry.

Mr Lis fled police investigators for six months before being arrested while trying to renew a visa at Indonesia's Beijing embassy last year. At the time, the Government described Mr Lis as an "environmental destroyer". When Mr Lis was escorted to a Beijing hospital for treatment a gang of 20 thugs tried to free him.

Companies connected to Mr Lis allegedly logged timber worth more than $30 billion outside concession areas in Sumatra between 1998 and 2005. Prosecutors requested that he receive a 10-year jail sentence.

Chief judge Arwin Birin rejected the corruption charges on a technicality, stating they were not valid because Mr Lis' private company had not used state money. He also dismissed illegal logging charges as the companies held forest concession permits. The firms are among dozens accused of illegal logging across North Sumatra.

Earlier this year, North Sumatra police chief Nurudin Usman said he was puzzled by acquittals of numerous illegal logging suspects. He feared that Mr Lis would also be freed.
Environmental groups have condemned Mr Lis' acquittal and demanded an investigation. "The judges have been bribed," their statement claimed.

Prosecutors said they would appeal to the Supreme Court against the Medan District Court decision.

Corruption within the judiciary, police and the forestry ministry is widely acknowledged to contribute to massive illegal logging in Indonesia.

Mr Kaban presided over a workshop this week, funded by Australia and the World Bank, to produce a forest protection plan as part of new Kyoto Protocol negotiations in Bali.
Mr Kaban said that illegal logging should be eradicated to help counter climate change, but the timber industry should not be hampered.

The workshop is fine-tuning plans for Indonesia to pilot the international program to protect forests. Environmental groups support the protection plan, but question Indonesia's will and capacity to enforce it by cracking down on powerful timber interests.

Angry? Then please write to these people and air your personal views, albeit politely please.

Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia
, Istana NegaraJl. Medan Merdeka Utara Jakarta Pusat 10010 INDONESIA, Tel: + 62 21 3845627 ext 1003: Fax: + 62 21 3457782

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Anton Apriantono; Address: Jl. Harsono RM no 3 - Gd D lt 2, Jakarta 12550; Email: webmaster@deptan.go.id

M.S. Kaban, Minister of Forestry;
Address: Manggala Wanabakti Build. Block I Lt. 4, Jl. Gatot Subroto, Senayan, Jakarta 10270 Email: ms.kaban@dephut.go.id
or indofor@dephut.go.id

Embassy of Indonesia (USA), 2020 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.Washington, D.C. 20036, USA;
Front Desk - 202 - 775 - 5200; Fax. 202 - 775 - 5365 mailto:made.mastra@embassyofindonesia

Indonesian Embassy, UK, - UK38 Grosvenor SquareLondon W1K 2HW;

Indonesian Embassy - Australia, 8 Darwin AvenueYarralumla, ACT 2600
email consular@kbri-canberra.org.au
Tel: +61-2-6250 8600Fax: +61-2-6273 6017