Orangutan Killers Sent to Prison in Kalimantan Case
Sangatta, East Kalimantan. A district court here sentenced four people on Monday to between 8 and 10 months in prison for slaughtering two orangutans on two separate palm oil plantations.
The sentence, issued by the Sangatta Court in East Kutai district, was more lenient than the one-year sentence sought by prosecutors.
Tajar and Tulil, employees of Cipta Prima Selaras in Muara Lancong subdistrict, were each given a 10-month sentence and a Rp 50 million ($5,400) fine.
They had earlier admitted to killing an adult orangutan in May last year but claimed that the animal had tried to attack them.
The same court handed down guilty verdicts to Leswin and Tadeus, employees of Sabhantara Rawi Sentosa in Telen subdistrict. They were each sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay a Rp 25 million fine.
Judges ruled that Leswin and Tadeus captured a female orangutan and her offspring, which they claimed were feasting on palm oil seeds.
The court said the two defendants deserved a more lenient sentence because they had contacted a local environmental group, the Center for Orangutan Protection, about the animals. When members of the COP arrived at the plantation, they found the adult orangutan dead and her offspring bound and locked up in a small box.
Judge Ali Sobirun, who presided over both trials, said the four had violated the 1990 Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Conservation.
COP campaigner Arfiani Khairunnisa said on Monday that she was disappointed with the ruling. She also said the prosecution should have sought the maximum sentence of five years.
“The verdict in Kutai Kartanegara was the same as the verdict in Sangatta. This will not provide a deterrent for the killing and slaughtering of orangutans,” she said.
Arfiani was referring to last month’s sentencing of four people in Kutai Kartanegara district, also in East Kalimantan. The four were given eight months in prison for killing at least 20 orangutans and other primates at a palm oil plantation owned by Khaleda Agroprima Malindo.
The court ruled that the four hunted down the orangutans and shot them with an air rifle.
Most of the orangutans did not die instantly but were left seriously injured and immobilized, the court heard. They then tied up the orangutans and left them to die from blood loss or hunger. Some of the orangutans were eaten by stray dogs.
“According to the Natural Resource Conservation Law, the maximum sentence for killing a protected species is five years in prison,” Arfiani said on Monday. “They should be sentenced as harshly as possible because orangutan habitats continue to decline because of forest encroachment to make way for palm oil plantations and mining concessions.”