Lowland rainforest in West Papua.
An Indonesian police official busted for illegal logging in West Papua has been missing from jail for nearly a year after being granted permission to seek medication treatment, reports the The Jakarta Post.
Labora Sitorus was last year found guilty of illegal logging and initially sentenced to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine for his role in a $127 million timber smuggling ring. However outcry over the lenient sentence led prosecutors to appeal to Indonesia’s Supreme Court, which boosted the penalties to 15 years in jail and a $450,000 fine.
When prosecutors went to execute the Supreme Court’s verdict, they found Sitorus missing from Sorong Prison. Sitorus was apparently allowed to leave the facility in March 2014 for medical treatment but never returned.
Authorities now want to bring Sitorus to justice, adding him to West Papua’s most wanted list.
Still the incident casts doubt on local officials’ appetite for enforcing environmental laws, says the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit that has campaigned extensively on the Sitorus case, including providing footage of illegal logging for Sitorus’ timber company.
“When convicted timber crooks are allowed to simply waltz out of prison and remain at large for 10 months without their absence being reported, and when that convicted criminal is a policeman accused of bribing senior police officials, Indonesia looks like a mafia state,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Jago Wadley in a statement.