Indonesian Ministry Prepares Lawsuit after Wildfire Investigation Team Held Hostage

Jakarta, 05 Dzulhijjah 1437/07 September 2016 (MINA) – Indonesia’s environment and forestry ministry said on Tuesday it may bring a lawsuit against a palm oil company after allegedly taking ministry forest fire investigators hostage.

“We haven’t submitted an official police report, but we have informed the Chief Security Ministry and also the president,” Xinhua quoted Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar as saying in Jakarta.

She added that her team is currently studying the legal process and collecting evidence to support the police report, but could not be sure as to when they would submit them.

However, she noted that her ministry at the moment is focusing on dealing with the legal process that is related with the forest fires and breach of land-use permits.

In a Sunday statement, the ministry said a group of about 100 men, claiming to be palm oil farmers, on Friday had intercepted and detained its team of seven officials during their investigation into a wildfire spot in Sumatra’s Riau province.

The ministry said there were “strong indications” the mob was mobilised by oil palm firm Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) which appears to be the only company operating in the 2,000 hectare of forested area that had recently been burned.

The statement described that the investigators were kept for about 12 hours while also receiving threats of being burned alive and having their bodies dumped in a river.

According the statement, the ministry team was released after lengthy negotiations carried out by local police officers.

However, the investigators had to agree with the mob’s demand to delete some photographic evidence and to temporarily leave their equipment. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)