The Environment and Forestry Ministry has lashed out against a palm oil firm’s attempt to stop a forest fire investigation by taking hostage seven ministry officials in Rokan Hulu, Riau.
The officials, who were investigating the alleged involvement of PT Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) in a massive forest fire in the area, were held hostage by individuals dispatched by the firm, ministry spokesperson Novrizal Tahar said.
The ministry dispatched the officials early last week to investigate a report that suggested deliberate burning had taken place in a Rokan Hulu forest. They subsequently found evidence that the firm had illegally taken over land and planned to use it for expansion.
APSL allegedly cleared around 3,000 hectares of land by burning, which prompted investigators to seal the area. The action evidently angered a group of at least 50 people who forced...