Men Jailed for 8 Months for Killing 20 Orangutans

Tenggarong, East Kalimantan. Four men were sentenced to eight months in prison on Wednesday for slaughtering protected orangutans on an East Kalimantan palm oil plantation.

The sentences are likely to anger environmental and animal rights groups, which had demanded that the defendants receive the maximum penalty of five years in prison for killing an endangered species.

Imam Muhtarom and Mujianto, who were convicted of carrying out the actual killings, were also fined Rp 20 million ($2,200) each.

Phuah Chuan Hun, the Malaysian national who managed the plantation owned by Khaleda Agroprima Malindo, and his employee, Widiantoro, were convicted of ordering the killings. They were fined Rp 30 million each.

The Tenggarong District Court, which heard the case, ruled that Phuah and Widiantoro hired Imam and Mujiyanto to drive the orangutans from the palm oil plantation.

Imam and Mujiyanto then hunted down the orangutans and shot them with an air rifle.

Most of the orangutans did not die instantly after being shot but were left seriously injured and immobilized, the court heard. The pair then tied up the orangutans and left them to die from blood loss or hunger.

Some of the orangutans were eaten by stray dogs.

Imam and Mujiyanto then showed photographs of the dead animals to Phuah and Widiantoro, who paid the killers Rp 1 million per orangutan. This was on top of a Rp 1.2 monthly salary.

“The defendants deliberately killed and wounded a protected animal,” the presiding judge, Rukman Hadi, said on Wednesday.

Habiburahman, the defendants’ lawyer, told the court after the sentencing that they needed time to decide whether to appeal to the East Kalimantan High Court.

The police arrested Imam and Mujianto in December after receiving a tip that they had killed orangutans. That led to the arrests of Phuah and Widiantoro.

The four men, police added, killed at least 20 orangutans and other primates in the company’s plantation area.