Orangutan-owner's trial

The first trial of an alleged owner of an endangered species failed to kick off on Wednesday at the South Jakarta District due to the absence of a witness from the Jakarta Police Headquarters.

The trial, which opened at about 4:30 p.m, was postponed, even though the defendant, Sumarto, the alleged owner of two illegal orangutans, Yunus Makasau, an expert from the Department of Forestry and prosecutors had been waiting for the trial since 9 a.m.

Sumarto is the first person in the city to stand trial for allegedly owning a protected animal. He is the owner of an animal show group, which performs at Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta. The orangutans, named Widodo and Karmila, have been seized by the authorities.

There are several other similar cases currently under police investigation. The cases were disclosed following several raids on the homes of alleged owners of endangered species.

In fact, the postponement was bizarre as chief prosecutor Bangkit S. was supposed to read his indictment against the defendant at the first session of the trial.

The prosecutor attempted to speed up the hearing as is often the case in a petty criminal case. Here, a petty crime, involving the violation of the Criminal Code carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and can be settled within days.

A trial dealing with a crime that carries a maximum jail sentence of more than three months is more lengthy and takes around six months to reach a settlement.

Presiding Judge Tusanai Djafri adjourned the hearing until next week. -- JP

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