Monday, 28 April 2008

General Escapes Criminal Charges Over Logging

General Escapes Criminal Charges Over Logging
Source: The Jakarta Post - April 25, 2008

The recently replaced West Kalimantan Police chief will escape criminal charges even though his tenure was linked to illegal logging cases in the province, a police official says.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto said Thursday former West Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin Ishak would not face criminal charges for illegal logging and timber smuggling cases in the town of Ketapang.

Sutanto said Zainal was only blamed for negligence that had allowed illegal logging and timber smuggling to take place under his jurisdiction."There will be no criminal charges (leveled against Zainal), but we'll investigate further the involvement of other officers involved in these cases," Sutanto told reporters after installing Brig. Gen. Neta Kesuma as Zainal's successor.

"If any of them is proven to be involved, we'll charge them," Sutanto said. Zainal has been assigned as an expert staff to the National Police chief. His replacement, said Sutanto, was aimed at bringing "fresh air to theorganization".The police have named former Ketapang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. AhmadSun'an, former Ketapang Criminal Unit chief Adj. Comr. Khadafi Marpaung and former Ketapang Water Police chief First Insp. Agung Lutfi suspects in the cases.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Abu Bakar Nataprawira said the police's investigation into Zainal had turned up no wrongdoing."There was no evidence of him playing a role in the cases," Abu Bakar said.

Illegal logging and timber smuggling in Ketapang are the latest cases being investigated by the National Police. So far, around 12,000 cubic meters of logs with an estimated value of Rp 208 billion (US$22.6 million) have been confiscated, along with 19 barges used in their transport.

The ministry of forestry reported a sharp decline in illegal logging cases from 2,039 in 2006 to 322 cases last year. Environmental group Greenpeace, however, said about 3.8 million hectares of Indonesian forests are damaged every year, mostly due to illegal logging. Neta said after his inauguration that illegal logging was one of 16 priorities mandated by Sutanto."But first of all, as a new chief, I will focus on internal consolidation,"Neta said. He promised to continue the investigations into illegal logging cases in West Kalimantan, including those involving police officers."I will uphold discipline among my personnel and hope to work with the public to oversee illegal logging cases in the province," Neta said. (dia)