Tuesday, June 15

Indonesia makes first arrests over haze

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JAKARTA: Indonesian police yesterday arrested two farmers for illegally starting fires to clear land in Sumatra, the first detentions linked to blazes that have blanketed neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with thick smog for days.

Police said the two farmers were not linked to any of the eight companies the government suspects are responsible for Southeast Asia’s worst air pollution crisis in years.

The parent companies of those firms included Malaysia-listed Sime Darby, which has denied wrongdoing.

“We arrested two farmers in Riau who were clearing their land by burning. They were not working for anyone but just clearing their own land,” said Agus Rianto, deputy spokesman for the national police. Under Indonesian law, any company or person involved in an illegal forest fire faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to 5 billion rupiah (US$503,800). — AFP