14 companies identified as alleged perpetrators in land and forest fires in Riau

PEKANBARU - Indonesia's environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya said 14 companies had been identified for alleged involvement in land and forest fires in Riau.

"According to data from our staff carrying out investigations, eight companies were identified [for being involved in the land and forest fires]; but, the number has now increased to 14 companies," said Balthasar in Pekanbaru as quoted by Antara news agency.

Following up on the identification, the minister said a further investigation would be carried out to disclose where the companies came from.

"There are indications that the eight companies identified earlier are foreign companies from Malaysia; no other foreign companies except those from Malaysia have been identified," said Balthasar.

Deputy Environment Minister for Environmental Damage Control and Climate Change, Arif Yuwono, said the ministry had dispatched an investigation team to several locations of land and forest fires on Friday. It later revealed that there was a deliberate lighting of fires with the intent to clear land for industrial purposes, he said.

"The direction of the fires as well as its source have become clear; so it is obvious whether they were accidentally lit or if they were started intentionally," said Arif.

He said civil servant investigators (PPNS) from the Forestry Ministry would carry out a preliminary examination on the case and step up its investigation if they obtained sufficient evidence from the field.

"While carrying out the investigation, we will keep upholding the principle of presumption of innocence," said Arif.

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