Companies in Riau alleged to have set land fires

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Seventeen companies in Sumatras province of Riau are believed to have set land fires in eight districts in the province.

"All the companies are now being dealt with by the police in their respective districts," Adjunct Senior Commissioner Guntur Aryo, the head of public relations of the regional police command, stated here on Tuesday.

He noted that two companies were being investigated by the police in Indragiri Hilir, three in Pelalawan and Kampar respectively, two in Rokan Hilir, and one in Indragiri Hulu.

Of the 17 companies, only PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo (LIH) has been confirmed as a suspect, the case of which is now being handled by the directorate of special crimes of the Riau regional police command.

He noted that all the companies had been cordoned off by the police and declared as status quo until investigations are completed.

He declined to reveal the names of all the companies due to fears that it would disrupt the investigation process, though he confirmed that most of the companies are operating in the plantation sector.

So far, the Riau regional police command has declared 68 individuals as suspects in land fire cases, and 23 cases out of them have been handed over to the prosecutors office.

On September 17, the Riau police arrested an executive of PT LIH known by the initials FK as a suspect in the case of land fire in Pelalawan.

Ari Rachman Nafarin, the vice director of special criminal investigation department of the Riau police command, noted that FK was arrested in Tanjung Mutiara in the district of Agam, West Sumatra.

PT LIH has been confirmed as a suspect in the case of setting land fire that occurred in the middle of the year.

The palm oil company has been charged with negligence that has caused fires based on Law Number 32 of 2009 on environment protection and management.(*)