MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Flawed Judgement: Newmont Buyat Bay Criminal Case

Published by MAC on 2007-04-24

Flawed Judgement: Newmont Buyat Bay Criminal Case

Joint Media Release

24th April 2007

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia), Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesian Centre for Enviromental Law (ICEL)

Jakarta - Environment groups have questioned the legal basis of yesterday’s Manado District court finding in favor of mining company Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) and its president director, Richard B Ness, indicted of polluting Buyat Bay with mining waste.

The reasons for the verdict as read to the public in the Manado court reveal that the judges ignored fundamental facts presented in evidence, such as the high levels of heavy metals contained in the company’s mine waste (tailings) which were dumped into Buyat Bay at a rate of 2000 tons per day, and breaches of legally enforceable environmental quality standards revealed in the company’s own quarterly monitoring reports. The panel of judges also neglected investigation results from the Central Forensic Laboratory (Puslabfor) of the Indonesian National Police, citing accreditation reasons.

Chalid Muhammad, Executive Director of WALHI said, "Despite both documents substantiating the indictment on pollution charges, the Manado Court freed Newmont Minahasa Raya and Richard B Ness from legal sanctions based on questionable legal technicalities and procedures."

Noted Indonesian environmental law expert, Mas Achmad Santosa, added "The court proceedings were not impartial. The panel of judges did not properly consider the testimony and technical explanations of witnesses and experts called by prosecutors. The reasons cited by the panel of judges are based only on the testimony provided by witnesses called by Newmont.”

Despite yesterday’s verdict, the criminal prosecution process is not over yet. According to Indonesia’s Penal Law Code, the public prosecutor can appeal the case in a higher court.

WALHI, JATAM, and ICEL urge the public prosecutor and the government of Indonesia to submit an appeal to Supreme Court. The prosecutors have a duty to point out to the supreme court and the public the flaws in the Manado court proceedings and the legal reasons provided by the panel of judges. We also urge the judicial commission to undertake an investigation into improprieties which transpired in the Manado court. [end]

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Chalid Muhammad, National Director, WALHI, +62 811 847 163
Siti Maimunah, National Coordinator, Mining Advocacy Network
(JATAM) +62 811 920 462
P. Raja Siregar, WALHI Researcher for the Buyat Bay case, +62 8111
53349
Mas Achmad Santosa, Environmental Law expert, +62 818 183 477

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