Indonesia’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from oil palm developer PT Kallista Alam, which had been ordered to pay a staggering 366 billion rupiah ($26 million) in fines and reparations for cut-and-burning forest in the Tripa peat swamp region.
The ruling puts to rest a three-year legal process that began when the Environment Ministry (since merged with the Forestry Ministry) brought charges against the company in a district court in Aceh province and that continued through Kallista Alam’s appeals of both that court’s decision against it and the Banda Aceh High Court’s upholding of the verdict.
Tripa has been severely damaged by rogue plantation operators, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry is prosecuting four more of the biggest firms in a case that is unprecedented both for the scale of the official response and the severity of the punishments that have been handed down.
The Attorney General’s office is also pressing criminal charges, and in July last year two Kallista Alam managers were sentenced to prison time, though the sentences have yet to be enforced. According to a statement issued yesterday by the Coalition Team for the Protection of the Tripa Peat Swamp, “Implementation of these sentences is believed to have been pending the appeal of the civil case with the Supreme Court, and presumably must now be enforced with the recent rejection of that appeal.”
Tripa is one of the last remaining strongholds of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and is also part of the Leuser Ecosystem, the only place in the world where the unique Sumatran varieties of the rhino, tiger, elephant and orangutan all still live in the wild.
The Aceh provincial government established a protected zone in Kallista’s former concession earlier this year.
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