The Jakarta Post
The Pangkalan Kerinci District Court in Riau on Thursday sentenced four men to two years and six months in prison each for hunting and killing elephants in the Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN) in Pelalawan regency.
The court also fined the defendants, Ari Kamil, Ishak Ibrahim, Herdani Serdavio Hasan Basri and Anwar Sanusi Poniran, Rp 20 million (US$1,428) each, or an additional three months behind bars.
Presiding judge Bangun Sagita Rambe said the defendants were proven guilty of violating Article 40 (2) of Law No 5/1990 on biodiversity and ecosystem and Article 55 (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP).
'Based on the facts presented in the trial, the element of jointly and deliberately hunting protected animals was legally and convincingly proven,' Bangun said, reading out the verdict.
However, he added, the defendants were not proven guilty of trading in elephant parts.
'Three pairs of tusks of 42, 49 and 25 centimeters, respectively, were to be handed over to Fadli [who is still at large] in return for Rp 4 million per kilogram, but the money had not been received at the time the defendants were arrested,' Bangun said.
The trial, which began on Nov. 12 last year, heard that the defendants had killed two adult male elephants and a baby male elephant on Feb. 6 last year in the TNTN area in Segati subdistrict, Langgam district.
'Based on the facts presented in the trial, the element of jointly and deliberately hunting protected animals was legally and convincingly proven.'
The defendants, Bangun said, had been given their hunting equipment comprising a rifle and 66 bullets from Fadli.
Ari killed the elephants by shooting them twice in the head; Herdani and Ishak then skinned the heads and removed the tusks using a cleaver and an axe. Anwar acted as a driver and guided the other defendants to the hunting ground. He was found guilty for not reporting the crime to the police.
'All of the defendants were aware that hunting wild animals was not allowed. That's why there are no justifying reasons for their deliberate violation of the prevailing laws,' the presiding judge said.
Aggravating factors included the fact that the crime could lead to the extinction of Sumatran elephants in Riau and that the defendants had previous convictions for involvement in elephant poaching from the Bengkalis District Court.
'Mitigating factors include that they confessed to and showed contrition for their crimes. They also support their families,' Bangun said.
The four defendants said they would not appeal.
Prosecutor Sri Mulyani Anom of the Pangkalan Kerinci Prosecutor's Office also expressed no objection to the verdicts.
The four defendants were previously arrested for poaching along with three others, Fadli, Mursid and Ruslan.
The Bengkalis District Court sentenced the seven poachers to sentences ranging from 10 months to a year and a month. They were also ordered to pay Rp 3 million in fines or serve a further month in jail.
WWF Indonesia Riau program spokesman Syamsidar on Thursday expressed appreciation of the verdict, noting that the sentences were more stringent than those handed down by other Riau courts in similar wildlife-related cases.
However, Syamsidar also urged the authorities to look more closely at the possible involvement in the case of Fadli, whom she said appeared to have escaped justice.
In October last year, she said, Fadli was released on parole after serving two thirds of the sentence handed down by the Bengkalis court.
'In the TNTN case he should have been sentenced alongside the four defendants; instead, he is still free, despite having masterminded the poaching.'
She expressed fear that if investors behind the poaching of protected animals were left untouched, they would consider themselves untouchable and increase their criminal activities.
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