Friday, September 14, 2012

1) Jakarta Court Dismisses Activists’ Claim Against Freeport

1) Jakarta Court Dismisses Activists’ Claim Against Freeport
2) No witnesses appeared at the trial of Buchtar Tabuni

1) Jakarta Court Dismisses Activists’ Claim Against Freeport
Rangga Prakoso | September 14, 2012
Judges at a Jakarta court have rejected a civil suit filed by a human rights group against mining giant Freeport Indonesia, saying the plaintiffs have no legal standing to lodge the claim. 

Suko Harsono, the presiding judge hearing the case at the South Jakarta District Court, dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), saying the court accepted the defense of Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan that operates a copper and gold mine in Papua. 

Suko ruled that IHCS had no legal standing to file the lawsuit because the claim involved the working contract between Freeport Indonesia and the Indonesian government. 

“Because the lawsuit has nothing to do with human rights, the court is of the opinion that the plaintiff has no legal standing to file it,” he said. 

IHCS executive chairman Gunawan called the verdict strange and vowed to appeal. 

“We will appeal and also report the panel of judges to the Supreme Court and the Judicial Commission over the strangeness of the verdict,” he said. 

Gunawan added that the verdict failed to consider the substance of the case and only dealt with legal formalities. 

IHCS filed the lawsuit against the local subsidiary of Freeport back in July, also naming President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry as respondents. 

The government and Freeport are alleged to be in breach of a 2003 regulation that sets higher royalty rates on non-taxable income than those stipulated in Freeport’s contract with the government. Freeport, whose head office is in Louisiana, currently pays 1.5 percent royalties on copper and 1.5 percent on gold. 

The IHCS argues that the figures should be raised to bring Freeport in line with the law, and that the company should make back payments at the rate set under the 2003 law — 3.75 percent for gold and 4 percent for copper. 

The group estimates that Freeport owes the state about Rp 2.2 trillion ($246 million) in unpaid royalties from 2003 to 2010. 

Suko said that if the government believed it incurred losses because of the contract, the body with the authority to rule on the matter was the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) while the institution with the authority to nullify the contract was the House of Representatives. 

Legislators, environmentalists and Papuan politicians have also argued that Freeport’s contract is unfair considering that its Grasberg facility is the world’s largest gold and copper mine, has one of the largest deposits of copper in the world and has allegedly caused substantial pollution due to the use of riverine tailings disposal — a process of disposing of waste rock that can cause serious environmental damage and is only used in three mines in the world, all on the island of New Guinea.
2) No witnesses appeared at the trial of Buchtar Tabuni
Bintang Papua, 13 September 2012

Jayapura: A hearing in the trial of Buchtar Tabuni took place today in the Jayapura district court, without the presence of any witnesses  who might have been able to testify in court in support of the charge that the defendant had damaged Abepura Prison where he was being the time.

One of his team of lawyers, Gustaf Kawer, said that there were a number of people who the prosecutor could have summoned to appear in court during the trial but he had not done anything to call these witnesses

Kawer said this was already clear at the earlier hearing on 10 September when the prosecutor  said that Matius Murib would be called to testify, but at the following hearing,  Murib did not attend as a result of which the presiding judge suspended. the hearing.

At the next hearing, it was the defendant, Buchtar Tabuni who was questioned. The presiding judge, Haris Munandar, asked Buchtar to tell the court  what he had done on 3 December 2010 when the prison was damaged.

Buchtar told the court that he had done everything he possibly could to prevent a crowd of people from inflicting damage in the prison.

'I shouted to a crowd of people, calling on them not to enter the prison and start damaging it.'

This is the same as what Buchtar Tabuni told the court at the begining of the trial.

[Translated by Carmel Budiardjo]

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