Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – The Riau Police on Friday named palm oil company PT Sumber Sawit Sejahtera as the suspect in a forest fire in Pelalawan regency, Riau.
The corporation is alleged to be responsible for causing a fire on a 150-hectare field in Meranti district, Pelalawan.
Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Widodo Eko Prihastopo said the police decided to name the company the suspect after gathering enough evidence and statements from expert witnesses.
"We have started the investigation and interrogated several witnesses from the corporation to uncover the cause of the fire," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Although the police named the corporation the suspect in the case, so far they have not named any individual responsible for the blaze.
The Riau Police have also investigated another corporation to determine its involvement in another forest fire that occurred in Langgam district, Pelalawan.
"We are still studying the case. There is a possibility that the company will become a suspect as well," Eko said. However, he did not reveal the company's name to the press.
The head of the Riau Police's crime unit, Sr. Comr. Gidion Arif Setiawan, added that the investigation started in early February after the police received a report of a fire in the concession field. The police also named 26 other people as suspects over forest fires in several regencies and cities.
Riau Governor Syamsuar promised that he would regulate illegal oil palm plantations around the island.
"Many people try to create new plantations by burning [forest]. They try to clear the forest so later they can use it as a plantation," Syamsuar said, adding that he would start regulating the illegal plantations after the Indonesian independence celebrations on Aug. 17.
"Hopefully there won't be other forest fires in Riau," he adds. (dpk)