Fri, 24 Nov 2000

Witness says Bob Hasan causes 'no state losses'

JAKARTA (JP): A witness implied at the Central Jakarta District Court on Thursday that the company of defendant Muhamad "Bob" Hasan had never taken photographs for a government-funded mapping project in 1996, but claimed that it caused no state losses.

The former chief of the Forestry Ministry's photographic evaluation team, Ishak Sumantri, said that he not only accepted thousands of old photographs, some of which were taken in 1992, from Hasan's company PT Mapindo Parama (MP) for the project, but recommended the use of the pictures.

"Some of the photographs were technically good, not that bad. So, we accepted them," Ishak told the panel of judges presided over by Subardi.

"We paid the defendant's company in full and to my knowledge, the defendant has not caused any losses to the state."

Chief prosecutor Arnold Angkouw had earlier questioned why Ishak, who coordinated the photographing work and the mapping, accepted the pictures which were taken before the US$87 million project was signed in 1996.

"You knew the photographs were old, some dating back to 1992 ... Such photographs have markings on the edges, indicating the time and date the photo was taken.

"The photos your team received, had the edges cut out. Why did you accept them?" Arnold said.

The then ministry of forestry used reforestation funds to finance the project upon advice from Ishak's team. The ministry's former secretary-general Oetomo later accepted the recommendation and disbursed the reforestation fund.

Prosecutors have charged Hasan with defrauding US$75.62 million in state funds, and another $168 million belonging to the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association (APHI) through the fraudulent aerial mapping project.

Ishak said that he knew the project was put down in a work agreement dated July 31, 1996, signed by Oetomo and MP director Herman Hidayat.

The agreement, he said, stated that the project involved the aerial photographing and mapping of 30.6 million hectares of protected forest, and that the ministry was to pay the defendant's company, $2.94 per photographed hectare, which included mapping charges.

Photographing charges alone, he said, cost $1.40 per photographed hectare.

Before Ishak, the Thursday hearing heard the testimony of Ahmad Ricky, an expert from the photo laboratory of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), who said that the laboratory had received up to three trucks of aerial photographs of protected forests, from MP and the forestry planning board of the ministry of forestry. (ylt)