Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Ships stopped with stolen logs

JAKARTA (JP): Police have seized nine cargo ships carrying 5,315 cubic meters of logs believed to have been stolen from various forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan last week, the chief of the Water Police, Brig. Gen. Mudji Santoso, said on Monday.

"The ships were stopped in Jakarta Bay between Sept. 16 and Sept. 23 as they were about to distribute the logs in Jakarta and other locations in Java," Mudji said during a media conference.

The secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Suripto, said the operators of the ships were in violation of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry and could be punished with up to five years in jail and/or up to a Rp 10 billion fine.

However, Suripto said it was difficult to discover who was behind the illegal logging, and that ship operators arrested in the past for transporting stolen logs had always been given light punishments.

"They were only fined a small amount of money and let go," Suripto said.

In August, a team established by the ministry seven months ago said illegal logging in forests across the country involved not only local officials and businesspeople, but also government officials in Jakarta and members of their networks in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Suripto said his office would soon auction off the stolen logs. "The quality of a log can deteriorate very quickly," Suripto added. (jaw)