Siak, Riau (ANTARA) - The arsonists, arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in wildfires in Siak District, Riau Province, came clean about their wrongdoings being spurred by economic motives, a police officer revealed.

"According to the suspected arsonists, the slash-and-burn practices are more economical for opening a new farming land," Deputy Chief of Siak Police Commissioner Hariri remarked in Siak on Thursday.

From August to September 2019, the Siak police investigators have, until now, arrested five suspects identified by their initials -- BJ (44), AR, UM (48), AS (52), and HS -- in connection with the cases of land and forest fires.

"Among them are farmers and plantation workers," he stated, adding that they had set their land on fire to conduct replanting activities.

The suspects found guilty of violating Law No. 39 of 2014 on plantations and Law No. 32 of 2009 on environmental protection and management can face imprisonment of three to 10 years and pay a fine of Rp3-10 billion.

Wildfires have destroyed certain areas in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan over the past several months amid the extended drought. The thickening smog arising from land and forest fires have posed a threat to public health and economic activities.

In Jambi Province, the local police are handling a case involving 12 plantation companies and 41 individuals allegedly involved in land and forest fires.

Director of the Criminal Detective Unit of the Jambi Provincial Police Senior Commissioner Thein Tabero stated that two of the 12 plantation companies had been named suspects in the land and forest fires.

In the meantime, 10 other plantation companies are being investigated, he stated on Wednesday.

In West Kalimantan Province, the police have arrested 52 suspects in 44 land and forest fire cases.

West Kalimantan Police Chief Insp. Gen. Didi Haryono revealed on August 27, 2019, that 43 suspects were involved in individual cases, while the other one involves a corporation.

He affirmed that the police will adopt stringent legal measures against those involved in land and forest fires.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has revoked the licenses of 10 plantation and industrial forestry companies where some hotspots were observed.

On Sept 20, 2019, the West Kalimantan police had also sealed off the operations of palm oil company PT Dinamika Multi Perkasa in Kenepai Village, Semitau Sub-district, Kapuas Hulu District, over wildfires arising on its concession land. Related news: Jambi police investigates 12 companies related to forest fires
Related news: Four people named suspects in land and forest fires in S Sumatra


Translator: Anita PD, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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