Sunday, 22 June 2008

KPK urged to arrest former Riau officials

Saturday, June 21, 2008 12:33 PM

KPK urged to arrest former Riau officials

Rizal Harahap , The Jakarta Post , Pekanbaru Sat, 06/21/2008

Conservationists in Riau on Friday hailed the decision made by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to name three former heads of the Riau Forestry Office and a regent as graft suspects.

The Riau Forest Savior working network coordinator, Haryansyah, said Riau had waited long enough for the decision as Pelalawan Regent Azmun Jaafar had already stated the suspects played a role in the issuance of illegitimate permits.

Haryansyah urged the KPK to immediately arrest the three suspects to restore the public's trust in the law and justice. The arrests should be made to erase the image that law enforcers prosecute commoners, but not state officials, he said.

"Not only Azmun but everyone must be treated equally. Arrests are needed to accelerate the legal process," Haryansyah told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He urged the KPK to immediately name a number of officials as suspects involved in the issuance of forestry permits in Riau.

Based on investigations conducted by the working network, he said, some 36 companies operating in Indragiri Hulu, Indragiri Hilir, Kampar, Siak and Pelalawan regencies had received commercial forest permits from the regent since 2002, despite the passing of a forestry law revoking the regent's authority to issue the permits as of September 2002.

"A lot of people are allegedly involved in issuing illegal forestry permit, from regents to ministers. If a permit is dubious, it could set off a chain reaction because procedurally it is an inseparable entity," Haryansyah said.
"Forestry office heads, governors and ministers must be held responsible and treated fairly by the KPK. Even if corruption is not involved, the official is wrong for keeping quiet about the crime," he said.

Companies benefiting from ill-gotten timber derived from illegal permits, said Haryansyah, must also be implicated. "KPK must investigate those taking advantage of the crime. We are ready to provide information and hand over evidence that we possess on forestry crimes," he said.

The three former forestry office heads who have been named as suspects in the Azmun case were identified as Syuhada Tasman, who led the office from 2003-2004, Asral Rachman (2004-2005) and Burhanuddin Husein (2005-2006).

KPK believes the three suspects were responsible for devising working plans for 15 logging permits issued by Azmun in Pelalawan from 2001 to 2006.

They are still on duty. Syuhada, who is the former Riau Plantation Office head, currently works for the Riau Research and Development Agency, Asral is Riau Manpower Office head, and Burhanuddin is Kampar regent.
Since KPK released his current suspect status, Burhanuddin rarely makes public appearances.

Asral and Syuhada were not available at their respective offices. According to unnamed sources at the Riau Manpower Office and Riau Research and Development Agency, both men are out of town on official visits.
Riau Governor Rusli Zainal declined to comment on the suspect status of the three former high-ranking officials.