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Jakarta Post

Judges blamed for lenient sentences in forest fires

  • Hans Nicholas Jong

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, June 18 2016   /  10:38 am

A lack of understanding among judges in environmental cases has led to companies and individuals, allegedly responsible for the annual land and forest fires in Indonesia, escaping serious sanction.

Recently, the North Jakarta District Court found palm oil company PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa (JJP), affiliated with agribusiness giant Wilmar Group, responsible for slash-and-burn activities on its concession in 2013.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry, the plaintiff in the case, believed that the total burned area was 1,000 hectares, while the panel of judges believed that only 120 ha had been burned.

Therefore, the court ordered PT JJP to pay only Rp 7.2 billion (US$540,000) in damages as well as Rp 22.2 billion in recovery costs, less than the Rp 491 billion demanded by the ministry.

The ministry plans to appeal the case, as the fine was far lower than that demand...