The Sodong, Mesuji case: community lands are claimed by PT SWA

Kayuagung, 7 October 2014 – After three sessions of examination of witnesses presented by the claimant (PT. SWA), on Tuesday, 7 October 2014, the defendants (inhabitants of Sodong village) presented their witnesses at the court.

In the session chaired by Dominggus Silaban, SH. MH., the defendants presented two witnesses, who are inhabitants of Sungai Sodong village, Rudho Bagus and Zainuddin KN. The legal counsels of the defendants, from the Public Interest Lawyer Network, were also present at the court: Andi Muttaqien, Judianto Simanjuntak, Sandoro Purba, and Wahyu Wagiman.

In his testimony at the court, Rudho explains that he owns a plot of land included in the disputed land with an area of 20 hectares. PT. SWA has admitted the ownership of the witness in PT. SWA’s land use right (HGU), and there were already talks to resolve the issue, although no satisfactory conclusion was reached (either compensation or sale). Rudho’s testimony counters the claimant’s reasoning that there are only four defendants, and this also confirms that PT. Sumber Wangi Alam’s HGU is not clear and clean.

The next witness, Zainuddin, explains that he has seen and listened to an explanation of the signing of the plan of development of plasma plantation, added on a map inventarising community lands made by PT. TMM (a company in the same group as PT. SWA), which explains that part of the community lands will be developed as core plot, and 533 hectares will be made plasma plantations.

The land dispute in Mesuji, including in Sungai Sodong, Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra, has been in court for some time. PT. SWA filed a lawsuit against 4 villagers related to control of land by villagers on 633 hectares of disputed land. The nationally-known case is currently being tried, with an agenda of examining witnesses. In the lawsuit, the company is also demanding a compensation of IDR 12 billion from the public.

The session will continue on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, with an agenda of examining witnesses from the defendant.