Guards surrender after murder

Guards surrender after murder

JAMBI, Indonesia - Seven security guards of PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), a pulpwood supplier for giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), have surrendered to the police after allegedly beating a farmer to death in Jambi.

"Accompanied by their lawyers, they surrendered at about 9 p.m. [on Monday]," Jambi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Almansyah said on Tuesday.

He said the guards were identified as Jemi Hutabarat, 28, Zaidan, 18, M. Ridho, 24, Febrian, 29, Deispa, 28, Asmadi, 33, and Ayatolah Khomeni, 25.

The guards, who were members of the quick response unit (URC) contracted by PT WKS, reportedly fled the scene after beating the farmer, Indra Pelani, to death on Friday afternoon near an acacia plantation by the company's Kembar 803 post in Tebo regency, Jambi.

Indra, a member of the Tebo Farmers' Union, and his friend Nick Karim of the Jambi branch of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) had passed the post on a motorcycle and got into an argument with the URC team members.

Indra was grabbed and beaten by the guards while Nick was aided by locals.

Indra died during the incident and his body was dumped 5 kilometers from the company's District 8 area.

Meanwhile, Jambi Walhi deplored the incident, calling it an inhumane act and urging the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to probe the brutal murder.

"We want Komnas HAM to investigate the case," Jambi Walhi executive director Musri Nauli said on Tuesday.

Musri said Walhi had also asked the police to probe the case thoroughly, saying that the murder may have been premeditated.

"It was premeditated murder," he insisted.

Musri said Walhi demanded that the company suspend its operations during the investigation.

Meanwhile, APP, a member of the Sinar Mas Group of companies, said in a statement on Monday that it had ordered WKS to suspend all personnel allegedly involved in the incident.

"We condemn violence and we support Greenpeace's decision to focus its efforts on this issue," it said, adding that efforts would be made "to ensure justice is served".

The environmental group has suspended cooperation with APP on account of the incident.

Bustar Maitar, the head of Greenpeace's Indonesia forest campaign, told Agence France-Presse on Monday that the group was temporarily withdrawing support for the company's initiatives on forest conservation.

Greenpeace had once been one of the strongest critics of APP, accusing it of destroying vast swathes of carbon-rich forests that were home to endangered species such as Sumatran orangutans and tigers.

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