Herman, Jakarta – The Jakarta Police halted the criminal investigation into the finding of more than 3.7 tons of government rice buried by delivery company JNE Express, saying on Thursday there is no proof of malice.
Police said earlier this week they found 3,675 kilograms or 289 sacks of rice buried near a JNE warehouse in the Jakarta suburb of Depok. The government supplies were intended as humanitarian assistance for low-income families in Greater Jakarta to help them cope with the devastating economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and JNE was one of the companies that won the contract to distribute the supplies.
"Results from the investigation indicate that no crime has been committed," Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Endra Zulpan said in a news conference.
His remarks came a day after a lawyer for JNE told local media that the company decided to dump the rice after it was damaged by rainwater and replaced it with equivalent supplies.
"So the buried rice belongs to JNE," said Anthony Djono.
He said the rice was damaged by rainwater during the delivery process from the State Logistics Agency (Bulog)'s warehouse in Jakarta to that of JNE.
JNE Vice President of Marketing Eri Plagunadi said earlier that the company has broken no law.
"With regards to media reports on the finding of [dumped] rice for the social program in Depok, there is no violation of any law because it was done in accordance to procedures on the handling of damaged goods," Eri said.
The dumped rice was unearthed on Sunday after the land owner was informed by a JNE employee.
Hotman Paris Hutapea, another attorney for the company, said JNE received the supplies in May 2020 but kept them in the warehouse for around 1.5 years before deciding to bury them to prevent misuse.
He said the damaged supplies cost JNE Rp 37 million ($2,500) in compensation purchase.
"Because the substitute has been delivered at JNE cost, the damaged rice belongs to JNE and it's up to the company what to do with it," the celebrity lawyer said.
(The story has been updated with comments from Hotman Paris Hutapea)