Sunday, 9 August 2009

Plantation firms behind forest fires in Riau: Minister

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sun, 08/09/2009

State Minister for Environment claimed that several plantation firms operating in Riau were behind the massive forest fires that caused dangerous levels of air pollution across the province last week.

He said that his office would submit its findings on forest fires cases to national police to take legal action.

“We will file lawsuit against the plantation firms this week,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Minister Rachmat and his Malaysian counterpart Douglas Unggah Embas flew over forest in Riau to watch the fires.

“The forest fires remain in place and uncontrollable. I see some forest fires are in the plantation firms.”

The 1999 environmental law authorizes civilian officials to investigate environmental-related violations.

Article 40 of the law says civil investigation officials may examine people accused of crimes in relation to violations.

The civilian investigators are also allowed to seek explanation and evidence from individuals or legal bodies in connection with criminal violations of the environmental laws.

The results of investigations can then be submitted to the police, who can then choose to arrest suspects based on the investigations.

Violators can face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a Rp 500 million fine.