22nd May 2007
Despite the rejection of all charges laid against Newmont, for its alleged poisoning of the waters and inhabitants of Indonesia's Buyat Bay, state prosecutors are now seeking an appeal, claiming that the regional court failed to follow the country's laws.
Indonesia prosecutors submit Newmont appeal document
MANADO, Indonesia, (Reuters)
22nd May 2007
Indonesian prosecutors have submitted an appeal document in a bid to overturn a ruling clearing a local unit of Newmont Mining Corp. in a high-profile pollution case, officials said on Tuesday.
On April 24, a court in the Indonesian city of Manado cleared PT Newmont Minahasa Raya and its American president, Richard Ness, of charges related to dumping of toxic waste into a bay near a gold mine in North Sulawesi and making people sick.
"We submitted the document to Manado District Court on Monday. We are filing an appeal because the judges' ruling is not in line with Indonesian law," said Purwanta Sudarmadji, who heads the prosecution team in the case.
He said one of the reasons for the appeal was the prosecution felt the panel of judges had made a decision on the case in summing up on Nov. 17, 2006, months before the last court session ended on March 16, 2007.
"The judges also only considered witnesses and evidence that benefited the defendants but disregarded evidence from prosecutors," Sudarmarmaji said.
The document would be submitted to the Supreme Court in Jakarta after Newmont submits its legal argument to counter the appeal, he added.
An official in the Manado court confirmed the court had received the document. "We have received the document and registered the appeal," said Robert Posumah, a court spokesman
After the 20-month trial, the court ruled that pollution charges against Newmont and its president could not be proven.
Luhut Pangaribuan, Newmont's lawyer, said the action breached Indonesian law because the law prohibited an appeal if a defendant was acquitted on all charges.
"We are puzzled as to why the prosecution thinks an appeal would yield a different result, especially an appeal that is in contradiction to the law," Pangaribuan said in a statement sent via email.
The case has received widespread attention and been seen as a key test of attitudes towards foreign firms and environmental protection in the world's fourth most populous nation.
Indonesia's Environment Ministry said in 2004 that arsenic and mercury content in waste dumped by Newmont had contaminated sediment and entered the food chain. But other tests failed to find abnormal pollution levels.
Last year Denver-based Newmont settled a civil case without admitting wrongdoing and agreed to pay $30 million to an environmental foundation in North Sulawesi.
© Reuters 2007