Fadli, Batam – The Batam District Court in Riau Islands has sentenced PT Prima Makmur director Zazli bin Kamel to five years and six months' imprisonment, in addition to a Rp 1 billion (US$68,000) fine, for clearing 6 hectares of mangrove forest for the construction of residential areas.
Judge David Sitorus read out the verdict during an online hearing on Tuesday. Zazli was found guilty of violating Law No. 32/2009 on the environment by damaging the air, water and sea water quality in the forest.
The prison sentence was lower than prosecutors' demand of eight years' imprisonment. However, the Environment and Forestry Ministry's law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said he appreciated the Batam court's verdict.
"The legal process went well. This should be an example for other courts to enforce the law and take stern measures against those who destroy forests," Rasio told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He said the his directorate general had recorded and planned to proceed with at least 40 cases of land grabbing in the protected forest areas in Batam.
Rasio said there were several cases of land reclamation and deforestation in Batam that were carried out without a permit and were used to develop residential and business areas.
Meanwhile, Batam Prosecutor's Office head Polin Octavianus Sitanggang said the office was waiting for the defendant's response to the verdict.
"If the defendant wants to appeal, we will continue the trial," Polin said, adding that prosecutors accepted the verdict because it fulfilled two-thirds of the demanded sentence. (aly)