Fri, 07 Mar 2003

Perhutani ready to face lawsuit

SURABAYA: State forestry firm Perhutani is ready to face a class action lawsuit filed by the families of at least 26 people who were killed in a landslide that hit the East Java town of Mojokerto last December.

"We have been prepared for the lawsuit. We will comply with the law," said Suto Wibowo, the spokesman for Perhutani's East Java chapter.

The families of the victims sued Perhutani and the local regent on Wednesday for negligence that led to the tragedy and demanded Rp 781 billion (about US$87 million) in compensation.

The mudslide, triggered by days of heavy rains, hit a hot spring resort located on the slope of Mt. Welirang in Pacet. Rescuers recovered the bodies of 26 victims, with 17 others still missing some three months after the incident.

The plaintiffs believed that Perhutani had violated the law by converting a nearby protected forest into a production area, thus weakening the topsoil near the resort. -- JP