Sodong Mesuji case: Residents file 266 property rights certificates to court

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

ELSAM, Kayuagung–The lawsuit trial of a palm oil company against residents of Sungai Sodong village at the Kayuagung District Court was once again held, with the agenda of written proof by the defendants. On the trial, the Public Interest Lawyers Network (PILNET), as legal counsel of four residents of Sungai Sodong village sued by PT Sumber Wangi Alam (PT SWA), filed 266 certificates of the customary property right to land as proof of the residents’ ownership over the disputed land.

The certificates were evidence of customary property rights held by 266 householders, led by H. Syafei Hasan (Haji Jalang). They were signed by the subdistrict head of Mesuji, OKI, South Sumatra in 1987 and 1989.

According to the residents’ legal counsels from PILNET, represented by Andi Muttaqien, Mualimin Pardi Dahlan and Judianto Simanjuntak, the disputed land of 633,2 hectares was owned by the residents of Sungai Sodong village, and PT SWA had yet to provide compensations to the residents. “Whereas the mapping has been conducted by PT SWA’s side on September 6, 1997,” PILNET said.

PILNET also stated the disputed land, which would be turned into plasma by PT SWA, was derived from four community groups and owned by the 266 householders. “Thus it was erroneous if the company only sued four residents as defendants,” they went on.

Previously, PT SWA sued four residents of Sungai Sodong village to the Kayuagung District Court on March 21, 2014 for seizing the land. In its lawsuit, PT SWA stated the 633-hectare land was part of its tenure, claiming that it had suffered a loss of Rp 12 million as a result of the residents’ control over the land.

Meanwhile, according to the residents, they owned the 633,2-hectare land, seized by PT SWA by including it into the company’s tenure. The residents also filed a retaliatory lawsuit against PT SWA over the land seizure, which had been done by the company from 1997 to 2001, demanding material compensations of 48 billion.

After the trial, the Panel of Judges will hold a local examination trial by examining the disputed objects, as well as claims from both sides. The local examination, which will be held on September 8, 2014 in Sungai Sodong village, will also represent the National Land Agency of OKI regency and the OKI Police. (AM)