Indonesian Legal System Stuck in Mud

Updated On: Jun 16, 2008

The Jakarta Post, 16 June 2008
Lapindo to blame for mudflow: Police

The Indonesian legal system continues to struggle with the Lapindo mudflow that has devastated the town of Sidoarjo in East Java, for more than two years. A volcano that has been spewing mud every day since first erupting on May 29, 2006. Fifteen villages have been affected by the mud and at least 36,000 people are now homeless.

Indonesian prosecutors have again rejected the dossier prepared by the police for action. The police say that human error by Lapindo officials, not an earthquake, was behind the disaster.

However, prosecutors insist experts are divided over whether the mudflow was caused by the volcano erupting after a powerful earthquake in Yogyakarta or by the drilling for gas by private company PT Lapindo Brantas, owned by the family of welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie. Unless the cause is determined, Lapindo could be acquitted from all charges, prosecutors said.

Scientists on Monday last week had delivered a rebuttal to Lapindo's claims that the Sidoarjo volcano was unleashed by the powerful quake two days earlier in Yogyakarta, some 250 kilometers away. British and other professors had published the study in the academic journal Earth Planetary Science and Letters, and said they are more certain than ever the Lusi mud volcano is an unnatural disaster that was triggered by drilling.

Lapindo says the data in the study is incorrect.