Court website hacked in protest over dismissed haze lawsuit

A man works to enter data on the computer keyboard in this arranged photograph.
A man works to enter data on the computer keyboard in this arranged photograph.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

JAKARTA • The website of a district court in a South Sumatran city has been hacked as a protest against a ruling it made last week rejecting a government lawsuit against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, which was accused of failing to prevent fires that blanketed South-east Asia in toxic haze.

The hacker or hackers wrote on the website of the Palembang District Court of the disappointment with the panel of judges, led by presiding judge Parlas Nababan.

The words were written in white against a black background on the website.

"I probably do not really understand legal matters but I really understand the suffering of having to breathe in the haze, it's suffocating. It's more suffocating now when I found out the ruling made by the judges," were among the words written.

"Can't you see us? The victims of haze?" the note added, while naming the three judges involved in the case.

The court in South Sumatra province last Wednesday dismissed the civil suit brought by the authorities against Bumi Mekar Hijau over fires on plantation land in 2014, saying there was insufficient evidence.

The haze-belching fires occur every year as land is cleared using slash-and-burn methods to make way for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations on Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo island.

The damages of US$565 million (S$797 million) would have been the biggest ever levied against a firm over such burning activities in Indonesia, and environmentalists said that the rejection was a major setback in efforts to take on those behind the annual haze outbreaks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 03, 2016, with the headline 'Court website hacked in protest over dismissed haze lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe