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Money and influence

The Jayapura court acquits a policeman alleged to have taken a bribe from illegal loggers. Prior to the court hearing, the judge believed the defendant would be freed.

POLICE Commissioner Marthen Renouw sighed with relief. After nine months of going back and forth attending the court hearings in the Jayapura court, eventually the judge’s gavel was banged in his favor. The panel of judges declared him not guilty. The charges of the prosecuting attorney that the 49-year-old man took a bribe from illegal logging bosses were not proven.

The October 6 ruling over the case barely escaped the media attention. In Papua, Renouw, known as Reno, was a well-known policeman whose special task was to bust illegal loggers. But his job got him sent to jail and interrogated by the National Police HQ in August 2005.

According to presiding judge Lodewyk Tiwery, Reno was not proven guilty of taking a bribe, since the prosecuting attorney was unable to present the key witnesses, the bribers. The prosecutor stated that Reno took a bribe of Rp1.065 billion. Reno refused to be charged with bribery. “That was a loan,” he stated.

The key witnesses referred to by the judge were M. Yudi Firmansyah, Wong Sey Kiing, Achiing, Denny, and Lim. They were board members of PT Sanjaya Makmur and PT Marindo Utama, the companies suspected of having committed illegal logging operations in the Bintuni area, Manokwari.

According to the prosecutor’s charges, from September 2002 through December 2003, Reno received 16 remittances from the five persons. The money was transferred through, among others, the Manokwari BNI branch, Harmoni BNI branch, Jakarta, Jakarta Kota BNI branch, and the Roa Malaka BNI branch, Jakarta. Police were after the five key witnesses who had disappeared.

The prosecuting attorney indicted Reno under the Anticorruption and Anti-Money Laundering Laws. Reno was charged with violating the articles concerning gratification. “It is assumed that the gift or the pledge is given for doing or for not doing something related to his position,” said prosecutor Dadang. The prosecutor recommended that the former head of Papua Police’s Offense Unit be given a three-year jail term plus a fine of Rp50 million.

In the courtroom, Reno denied that the money he received constituted a bribe for not taking action against the illegal logging operations committed by the two companies. He said the money was used to cover operational funds in the eradication of timber thefts in Papua in 2003. The money was used for, among other things, hiring a speedboat, a helicopter and a plane. He argued that he “borrowed” the money because his superior did not provide the budget for such operations.

Reno’s acquittal disappointed Dadang. He filed an appeal against the ruling. “The evidence and indications of remittances transferred to Reno’s bank account are very obvious,” he said. The money, he said, came from the key witnesses who turned out to be the timber thieves in Papua, who are now on the wanted list (DPO). The DPO status, said Dadang, came up while police were interrogating Reno.

The Prosecutor’s Office, said Dadang, had asked the National Police HQ to present the key witnesses. “But it was in vain.” During the proceedings, Reno claimed he did not know that the five persons who were his good friends were timber thieves.

Judge Lodewyk told Tempo last week that prior to the court hearing, he was certain Reno would be exonerated. “Because the evidence is very weak,” he said. He, along with two other judges, Morris Ginting and A. Lakoni Harnie, unanimously agreed to the acquittal, said Lodewyk.

Dadang was not the only one who was disappointed with the acquittal. Rudy Satryo Mukantardjo, a legal expert from the University of Indonesia, also deplored the exoneration of Reno. “The judge should not have stuck to the conventional evidencing system which refers to the Law on Criminal Procedure,” said the criminal law expert who was last week asked by the Attorney General’s Office to act as an expert witness in another illegal logging case in Papua.

According to Rudy, in such a case as Reno’s, the key witness is not absolute, especially considering that the status of the witness is fugitive. “Does this mean the judge cannot do anything else?” he said. In his opinion, a letter should not have been viewed as a clue, but it could become legitimate evidence. Especially considering that the charges against Reno are based on the Anticorruption and
Anti-Money Laundering Laws. The two laws, he said, have broadened the definition of evidence.

The same view was voiced by the head of National Police HQ’s Police Detective Agency, Comr. Gen. Makbul Padmanagara. According to Makbul, the evidence presented by the prosecutor in the Reno case was reasonably strong. However, he declined to comment on the acquittal of his man. “Don’t ask me. The people will form their own judgment,” he said to Tempo Wednesday last week.

Another voice came from Reno’s attorney, Petrus Ohoitimur. According to him, the court ruling is right. “Not one single piece of evidence indicates that my client has taken a bribe.” On the contrary, said Petrus, Reno was a policeman who was loyal to his superior. “Despite the minimum operational funds, he has not troubled his superior.”

In the eye of the Deputy Secretary of the Papuan Traditional Council, Fadal Alhamid, the trial was a farce. Since the outset, he did not believe that Reno would go to jail. “He wields great influence in Papua,” he said, “and he’s got money.”

Maria Hasugian, Erwin Dariyanto, Cunding Levi (Papua)

Freed Despite Illegal Logging

PAPUA can be called a haven for illegal logging. For years, the thieves indulged in robbing timber there, but no big-time illegal loggers went to jail. Such a case as Marthen Renouw’s is not the first time of its kind. Forestry Department data show that until this month at least 22 timber robbers have been acquitted by the courts. Of the number, 21 were freed by judges in Papua, and one case in Pontianak.

This infuriated Forestry Minister Malam Sabat Kaban. “Even though the evidence to incriminate them is already clear,” said Kaban. In November last year, Kaban complained to the Judicial Commission requesting the Commission to investigate the judges suspected of being in cahoots with the illegal loggers. “I suspect that behind the rulings there has been something that is in conflict with the legal norms,” said Kaban.

The Judicial Commission responded to Kaban’s request. According to Commission member Irawady Joenoes, the Commission had indeed planned to form a joint team made up of the Judicial Commission, Forestry Department, and the police. “But before [the plan] was realized, the Judicial Commission’s leg was cut off by the Constitutional Court,” said the Coordinator of the Judicial Commission Ethics and Judges’ Conduct Supervisory Section. As a result, some illegal loggers were “awarded” not-guilty verdicts by the courts. The prosecuting attorneys instantly responded to the rulings by giving notice of appeal.

  • Simon Sulaiman and Danang Suhargo

PT Jutha Daya Perkasa Director Simon Sulaiman was arrested for cutting down merbabu trees in the Kopermas Mawaif area, Nengke village, Sarmi regency, Papua. In his operations, Simon was aided by Danang Suhargo, the branch manager of PT Jutha Daya Perkasa Jayapura, Lai Hua Teng and Wong Ing Wu. The last-named two persons have to date been at large.

In the court, the prosecuting attorney demanded that Simon and Danang be given a seven-year and a six-year jail term respectively and that both pay a fine of Rp1 billion. On September 26, 2005, the Jayapura District Court panel of judges comprising F.X. Soegiartho, S. Radiantoro, and Denny D. Sumadi handed them a not-guilty verdict, arguing that they had a tree-felling license.

  • Jansen Maarisit and Sureng Anak Gani

Jansen and Sureng were arrested by Papua Water and Air Police in the waters of Yamna Island on February 25, 2005. The police found evidence of 80 logs with no proper documents. According to the police, the logs were transported by Sureng on a barge from PT Wapoga Mutiara Industri in Biak for transshipment to the boat captained by Jansen. When the timber was being moved to Jansen’s boat, the police suddenly came on the scene and busted both men.

The prosecuting attorney demanded a seven-year jail term for both. But the panel of judges comprising F.X. Soegiartho, Majedi Hendi Siswara, and Denny D. Sumadi acquitted them on September 27, 2005.

  • Andi Selle Paralangi

This head of the Yasra Bayan Community Co­operatives, Jayapura, was arrested by police on March 17, 2005 under charges of smuggling 860 merbabu logs while being transported by the Fitria Perdana motor vessel to Surabaya as its destination. Water and Air Police caught Fitria in Biak waters. It turned out that Andi forged the timber documents. There was a total of 896 logs with the volume of 3,580.86 cubic meters, instead of 850 logs with a volume of 2,775.86 cubic meters, as stated in the document.

In the Jayapura Court, the prosecutor demanded a four-year jail term plus a Rp100 million fine for Andi. But the panel of judges headed by F.X. Soegiartho and his two members Majedi H. Siswara and Denny D. Sumadi on August 30, 2005 acquitted Andy, reasoning that the difference in numbers was caused by the cutting up of logs which were too long.

  • Prasetyo Gow alias Asong

This timber tycoon from Ketapang, West Kalimantan, was busted as police checked the Layan Bermakna motor vessel and the JEVI motor vessel carrying about 1,000 cubic meters of timber. At that time, September 17, 2004, the two vessels were in the Lalang Lestari timber storage area in Ketapang regency.

When police demanded to be shown the timber documents, the owner, Prasetyo Gow alias Asong, became nervous. He was unable to produce the legitimate forest products documents (SKHSH) citing the excuse that the documents were under process at the Ketapang Forestry Service. The police put Asong in jail, and the prosecuting attorney demanded a four-year jail sentence for him. On October 17, 2005, the Pontianak District Court panel of judges headed by I Made Ariwangsa exonerated Asong. He walked free to resume his timber “business.”

Abdul Manan, Cunding Levi (Papua), Harry Daya (Pontianak)

Tempo Magazine, No. 11/VII/Nov 14 - 20, 2006


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