Another Arrest in Illegal Logging Clamp

NEGARA

Police in Jembrana have made a new arrest as part of ongoing efforts to tackle illegal logging in the protected forests of west Bali.

The arrest, on Saturday last week, came after police stopped a truck that was carrying freshly cut timber from the forest in Klakatan in the Melaya district.

Officers had first spotted the vehicle heading east into the forest area without a load, and then returning loaded with timber at around 7pm on Friday. They attempted to pursue the vehicle, and then called officers at Melaya Police and asked them to stop the truck as it passed.

The truck was stopped at Tuwed on the main Denpasar-Gilimanuk highway at 4am on Saturday.  The driver was unable to produce papers showing the timber to have been legally obtained and was arrested.

According to police spokesman the driver, 26-year-old I Putu Wardhana, had been wanted for some time in connection with illegal logging.

Speaking to reporters after his arrest Wardhana said he was paid Rp100,000 (US$11.5) for each load of timber he delivered, and claimed he had been working for a man named Pungki Sumawan who lived in the Klakatan area.

“I was only asked to go to a certain location (in the forest).  There were already two men waiting there to load the timber into the truck,” he said.

Meanwhile, officers secured 11 illegally cut lengths of teak in Klakatan on Sunday, but failed to arrest the loggers.

The head of the forestry management unit, Agus Sugianto, said on Monday that officers had been investigating illegal logging in the Klatakan area for some time, and had obtained video footage of men cutting down trees within the protected area, but added that it had been hard to trace the suspects.

“For several months they’ve been giving us the slip.  We need to do more,” he said.

Those arrested for illegal logging face prosecution under the 1999 forestry act.

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