LAWSUIT AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT CHILLS TESTIMONY IN INDONESIA
Environmental experts and activists are closely watching a lawsuit filed against an academic whose testimony helped convict a governor on corruption charges, in a case many fear could set a worrying precedent. Basuki Wasis, an expert on environmental degradation from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), has testified in more than 200 cases involving environmental crimes such as forest fires and pollution. In February, he testified as a prosecution witness against Nur Alam, the suspended governor of Southeast Sulawesi, who was charged with abuse of power in the issuance of mining licenses. Alam was ultimately sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay fines and damages totaling 3.7 billion rupiah ($268,000 US). But on March 12, two weeks before the conviction, Alam’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Basuki, questioning the accuracy of his calculations and his credibility. In addition to a prison sentence, Alam’s team seeks to seize Basuki’s assets, including his house, and calls for a combined 4.47 billion rupiah ($322,000) in fines and damages. The move has struck fear into the community of environmental experts in Indonesia, who say they are scared of winding up in prison for testifying against environmental violators in future cases. For the full story, visit https://news.mongabay.com/2018/04/environmental-defenders-fear-backlash-as-defendant-sues-expert-over-testimony/.