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Convicted Indonesian police officer and illegal logger on the run once again

  • In September 2014, Labora Sitorus was ordered to serve 15 years in prison for illegal logging and money laundering.
  • He was given permission to leave prison in March 2014 to seek medical attention, then simply never returned.
  • He was re-apprehended in February 2015, but allowed to leave the prison for medical treatment again and had disappeared when police arrived at his home for an arranged transfer to a prison in Jakarta on March 4.

An Indonesian police officer convicted of illegal logging and money laundering is on the run from the law — again.

The convicted officer, Labora Sitorus, was originally charged in early 2014 with a number of crimes, including illegal logging and money laundering, but was found guilty of just the illegal logging charge and sentenced to a mere two years in prison and a small fine.

Sitorus was subsequently found guilty of the additional charge of money laundering on May 2, 2014 after his case was appealed to the High Court of Jayapura in Papua, Indonesia. Sitorus was given another eight years, but state prosecutors thought even that sentence was too lenient and appealed to Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

In September 2014, Sitorus was ordered to serve 15 years in prison and pay a 5 billion-Rupia fine (about $380,000).

But Sitorus had no intention of serving his time, as it turns out. He was given permission to leave prison in March 2014 to seek medical attention, then simply never returned.

He was re-apprehended in February of last year after being placed on West Papua’s most-wanted list by police, but was again allowed to leave prison in October 2015, this time to undergo treatment at a local hospital for a stroke and heart problems.

When police and officials with Indonesia’s Justice & Human Rights Ministry went to Sitorus’ home last Friday, March 4, for an arranged transfer of the ex-cop to a prison in Jakarta, where he could be treated for his health problems while serving his time, Sitorus was not there and his whereabouts were reportedly unknown.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released video footage in May 2013 of illegal loggers harvesting merbau and other tree species for Sitorus’ timber company, PT Rotua, from forests on Batanta, an island in the Raja Ampat archipelago of West Papua.

PT Rotua also reportedly received timber from the forests of Sorong, Aimas, Bintuni and other regions of West Papua, according to the EIA.

“This has now become a farce of the highest magnitude,” EIA Forest Campaign Team leader Faith Doherty said in a statement. “Indonesian officials and the rogue police officers who benefit from a corrupt system are making the country a laughing stock.”

Doherty said that Sitorus had bank accounts containing up to 1.5 trillion Rupia when he was found guilty of illegal logging and money laundering, and that whoever may be harboring the fugitive is “effectively” complicit in Sitorus’ crimes.

“For all those who have risked their lives investigating this policeman and his criminal syndicate, and for all those champions within Government… to have this thrown in their faces again is unacceptable,” Doherty added. “This man is a crook and should be behind bars.”