The Jakarta Post
The government has expressed its desire to file an appeal to a higher court following its loss at the Palembang District Court in relation to a forest fire case against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH) on Wednesday. The loss foiled the government's hopes for compensation of Rp 2.6 trillion (US$188.27 million) and a restoration fund amounting to Rp. 5.2 trillion.
'We will file an appeal and we have frozen the company's environmental licence,' said Rasio Ridho Sani, the Environment and Forestry Ministry's director general for law enforcement, on Wednesday as reported by tempo.co.
Judges on the Palembang District Court rejected the Environment and Forestry Ministry's lawsuit against BMH accusing the company of burning down forests and causing losses in biodiversity and land mass. The lawsuit was submitted by the ministry in February and the first hearing was held in March.
In his ruling, judge Parlas Nababan said that the plaintiff could not prove the scale of state losses.
'Biodiversity loss could not be proven,' said Parlas at the court on Wednesday.
The judges also believed that BMH was not directly responsible for the forest fires because the company had appointed a third party to cultivate the land.
Before the issuance of the verdict, the judges conducted a field trial at BMH's concession in Ogan Komering Ilir district, South Sumatra, in November.
Rasio expressed his disappointment over the verdict, emphasizing that the government had submitted sufficient evidence to warrant a victory. Rasio argued that the decision of the judges was not in line with the facts.
He added that the government would keep trying to prevent forest fires in the country.
Companies like BMH, he said, destroyed the environment and public health. (cal/bbn)(+)
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