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2015’s Landfires in South Sumatra: six directors of 19 plantation companies named as suspects / photo: advan.oomph.co.id

Two companies identified as suspects of land burning in Rokan Hulu, Riau Province

INDONESIA, Pekanbaru - Riau Police is establishing two oil-palm plantation companies in Pekanbaru, Riau Province in Indonesia, as suspects in cases of forest and land fires.

RiauOnline reported on Thursday (15 September), Director of the Riau Special Criminal Force, Police Commissioner Rivai Sinambela, said the two companies are Wahana Sawit Subur Indah (WSSI) Ltd and Siak Sontang Sawit Permai (SSSP) Ltd in Rokan Hulu, Riau; they will be investigated as suspects this week.

"This is a stage escalation of the investigation, this week we are going to set the corporations as suspects," said Rivai on Wednesday (14 September).

In addition, President Director of WSSI, initialed OA, is also named as a suspect because he is considered as the person who was responsible for the fires in the concession in 2015.

But police have yet to determine the SSSP official who is responsible because the investigation was still in progress.

Rivai informed that forty hectares concession land of SSSP were burned on August 24.

The company has concessions covering an area of 1500 hectares, a total of 460 hectares have been planted with palm-oil trees.

According to Rivai, there is evidence of deliberate intent to burn the land, found in the concession land of the two companies.

The evidence is said to be the stacking or defining around the periphery of the shrubs overgrown land with canal. "The canals were made so the fire will only burn the intended land and won’t spread out,” he explained.

Police are also still investigating the cases of fires in Andika Permata Sawit Lestari Ltd (APSL) in Riau. However, the police has not found any land owned by the company that burned during the investigation.

The burned site where the hostages were taken seemed to be mistakenly reported before as owned by APSL Ltd; the police found that the lands belong to the farmer group, which partnered APSL as a creditor.

Rivai said fires in oil palm plantations area on Bonai in Rokan Hulu and Siarang-arang District in Rokan Hilir were started in the land owned by farmer groups.

The groups partnered with PT APSL as a foster company which acts as the creditor.

This information is in accordance to PT APSL’s denial to allegation on hostage taking reported by TOC.

"The area burned belonged to farmer groups in partnership with APSL and not the company's land," Rivai said.

Rivai promised the police would bring the case of the two corporations to the court this year.

"I reiterate, the Riau Police would not mess around in handling the fire-cases, there is no SP3 for us," he said.

SP3 is Letter of Termination of Case Investigation, published when there was not enough evidence, or when the case was found out as not criminal in the ongoing investigation.

In another news on 13 September, Riau Online also reported that the Indonesian Governments are required to act decisive in the case of opening canals and burnings in peatlands by Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper Ltd (RAPP) in Bagan Melibur District, Pulau Padang in Meranti Islands.

This was stated by deputy chairman of 4th Commission of House of Representatives, Viva Yoga.

"The government should not be mushy and soft on large enterprises. The government should not be selective in law enforcement," said Viva Yoga.