Sunday, 28 June 2009

East Aceh Police Haul In Load Of Illegal Lumber

June 26, 2009

Nurdin Hasan The Jakarta Globe

Banda Aceh. Police in Aceh said on Friday they had seized 2,000 cubic meters of illegal timber and arrested a suspect during logging operations in East Aceh.

It was the biggest seizure so far this year in the province.

Aceh Police chief of criminal investigations, Wahab Saroni, said the haul had been seized from a 100-hectare area of productive forest in Seuneubok Bayu village in East Aceh on Wednesday but was not made public for operational reasons.

“Following the investigation, we now have the evidence to convict a number of suspects,” he said.

Police have already named one suspect, Saifudin, the deputy chief executive of logging firm PT Bumi Pantai Lestari Limited Partnership.

Wahab said nine witnesses from the Aceh Forestry and Plantation Office and its East Aceh sub-office, the Aceh Center of Integrated Services and land clearing monitors have also been questioned in relation to the case.

“They are still [being questioned as] witnesses, but as the case develops, they might be named suspects,” Wahab said.

He said that the Aceh Forestry and Plantation Office had opened a tender in 2008 for the clearing of 500 hectares for palm plantations. The project was awarded to Bumi Pantai Lestari, which went on to fell additional trees on 100 hectares of land that was not included in the clearing contract, and for which the company did not have a permit.

“We are serious about punishing those whose crime is destroying the environment,” Wahab said, adding that the police operation aimed to eliminate illegal logging and support the moratorium on logging put forward by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf in 2007.