SBY: Police, military involved in logging

SBY: Police, military involved in logging

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Rendi A. Witular and Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Military and police personnel along with officials from the ministries of forestry and immigration are all involved in the lucrative business of illegal logging in Papua, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has proclaimed.

His statement, quoted by Ministry of Forestry MS Kaban on Tuesday, drew immediate signals of apparent cooperation from the mentioned institutions. Operations assistant to the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, said the TNI is investigating whether their involvement was limited to their personnel, or whether the institution itself was involved.

Minister Kaban said, "According to the President, personnel of the eastern Navy, the police in Papua, the Trikora Regional Military Command (based in Papua provincial capital of Jayapura), local offices of the ministries of forestry and immigration in Papua, all have indications of being involved in illegal logging in Papua." He had earlier attended an unscheduled Cabinet meeting on illegal logging.

The meeting followed on last week's revelations by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency and the Indonesian group Telapak. It's report accused the TNI and other officials of smuggling 300,000 cubic meters of timber per month from Indonesia (mostly Papua) to China, with a value of more than US$1 billion.

Kaban on Tuesday named some of the business people allegedly involved, with their main operations taking place in Papua, Jambi, East Kalimantan, Dumai in Riau and North Sumatra -- but he did not name any high ranking officials or military and police officers.

"There's no way the TNI is not involved. The ship carrying the illegal timber was guarded by warships," he said. The President has instructed that an "integrated crackdown" take place in the next two weeks, Kaban said, against all suspected parties, which would cost some Rp 8 billion (about $860,000).

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said apart from cooperating in the crackdown, his office would conduct "shock therapy" against personnel suspected of involvement in the crime. A former police chief of Sorong regency in Papua and five of his subordinates are on trial for alleged illegal logging in the province. Also on Tuesday deputy chief of detectives at the National Police Insp. Gen. Dadang Garnida said police are seeking funding of Rp 48 billion a year in order to conduct six operations per annum, or Rp 8 billion per operation, against illegal logging.

He said that with the Rp 8 billion spent in an earlier operation, police had managed to recover around Rp 1.5 trillion worth of illegal timber.

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