Typo derails landmark ruling against Indonesian palm oil firm guilty of burning peatland

JAKARTA — A landmark Indonesian case that saw an oil palm company fined millions of dollars for burning carbon-rich peatlands has effectively been derailed by a district court on the basis of a simple typo. PT Kallista Alam was in 2015 found guilty by the Meulaboh District Court in Aceh province of using fire to clear 10 square kilometers (3.9 square miles) of land in the Tripa peat swamp on the northwest coast of Sumatra. The company pursued a series of appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court, which upheld the initial ruling and ordered the company to pay an unprecedented 366 billion rupiah, about $26.5 million at the time, in fines and reparations. Its final ruling came in April 2017, at which point the company should have exhausted all avenues of appeal. Later that same year, however, the same district court that had convicted the company approved its petition for legal protection. PT Kallista Alam subsequently filed suit against the government, arguing that the coordinates for its concession as submitted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in the original prosecution were wrong. In April this year, the Meulaboh District Court ruled in favor of PT Kallista Alam, effectively shielding it from the Supreme Court-ordered fines on the basis of a typo in the original complaint. “The plaintiff, PT Kallista Alam, cannot be made to be legally responsible with regard to the Supreme Court’s verdict,” the court said in its April 12 ruling. The ruling has shocked…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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