Police should pursue perpetrators of forest fires: President

"The police should continue to pursue the perpetrators. The national police chief has announced the names of the suspects who have allegedly started forest fires in Indonesia," President Widodo said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo has urged the police to continue with its law enforcement efforts to arrest the perpetrators of forest fires.

"The police should continue to pursue the perpetrators. The national police chief has announced the names of the suspects who have allegedly started forest fires in Indonesia," President Widodo stated here on Thursday.

The president pointed out that two types of forest fires are affecting six provinces and the neighboring countries.

"Fires that occurred in peatland areas can be difficult to extinguish as they may continue to burn underground for long periods of time," he stated.

Secondly, several companies deliberately set fire to hundreds of hectares of land area.

Earlier, the Indonesian police expressed its commitment to thoroughly investigate all errant companies that burnt down forests leading to haze, which has affected various regions in the country.

"The police is committed to conducting investigations against the perpetrators. This investigation will not be partial, rather it will be a thorough one," Brigadier General Yazid Fanani, the director of special crimes at the National Polices Crime Investigation Department, stated.

He expressed hope that the investigation would result in the ministries or the concerned state institutions either imposing administrative sanctions against companies found guilty or revoking their permits.

He explained that as of now, sanctions could only be imposed after obtaining a court ruling.

"An administrative sanction, in this case the revocation of the permit, may only be imposed after obtaining a court ruling," he pointed out.

He affirmed that the police are now handling 131 cases of fires being set in forest and land areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Of the total, 28 are still under preliminary probe, 79 are under investigation, while 24 cases have been confirmed.

The cases are related to fires in Riau (Sumatra), South Sumatra, Jambi (Sumatra), and West and South Kalimantan.

He remarked that 126 people have been named suspects in connection with the cases, while a company known as PT Bumi Mekar Hijau has also been named a suspect in the case of a fire in South Sumatra.

Two other companies -- PT Tempirai Palm Resources and PT Waimusi Agro Indah -- which operate in South Sumatra, are also under investigation.(*)

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