Illiterate Farmer Faces 10-Year Sentence After Taking Piece of Wood

By webadmin on 09:49 pm May 13, 2012
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Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

An illiterate farmer never imagined he would have to spend months in a police detention center for taking a teak branch from a plantation in Kendal, Central Java.

Rosidi, 41, has been detained for almost three months, leaving his wife and three children at home without the household’s main breadwinner, after his arrest in February.

The case reached Jakarta on Friday, prompting lawmakers and activists to demand his release, calling the detention unfair.

Lawmaker Nasir Jamil said that Rosidi’s case was ironic because many other people have walked free after conducting massive illegal logging that caused natural disasters and trillions of rupiah in state losses.

“Even if he stole the teak branch, he should have been warned because probably he did not know that what he was doing was illegal,” Nasir said. “Isn’t the legal system supposed to correct people? Just let him go.”

Rosidi used to pass through a teak plantation on his way to other villages. On Nov. 5 last year, he saw a branch of a teak tree that has been cut and left behind by the owner of the plantation.

He took the branch home, cleaned it and sold it for Rp 600,000 ($65), according to police.

Thee months later, he was arrested. Because he could not read, the police reportedly read his dossier to him and had him put his fingerprint on it.

The prosecutors charged him with stealing, leaving him to face up to 10 years in prison and a Rp 10 billion fine.

“The police and prosecutors have no conscience at all. They should have learned from similar recent mistakes,” Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, said in Jakarta on Friday.

Recent prosecutions for petty crimes have led to criticism of the country’s judicial system.

Earlier this year Rasminah, a 55-year-old grandmother, was convicted of stealing oxtail meat and plates. Police detained her for four months without legal assistance.

In January, an 11-year-old boy was charged with unpleasant conduct in Sidrap, South Sulawesi, after a stone he threw apparently hit the house of a local businessman.