"Mangkang Menua,Mangkang Dunya,Ngetan Ke Bansa!!"

July 5, 2010

Pantu Iban cleared of theft charge

Oil Palm company tries to charge natives with theft for harvesting oil palm from their own territory, Former Iban Deputy CM steps in to help

5 July 2010.

Sri Aman, Sarawak, Malaysia

Defendants with their lawyer, Datuk Daniel Tajem on far left.

The session court in Sarawak today discharged, though not amounting to acquittal, 10 indigenous Iban from a charge of oil palm theft. Oil palm company Kim Loon (formerly Tertangga Akrab Sdn Bhd) had made a report of theft of the oil palm.

In response, the defendants claimed that the company had illegally encroached and planted the oil palm on their territory. According to adat, customary law, fruit planted on native land belongs to the community to harvest. The judge said that since the land was claimed by the people as their native customary land and had, in fact, filed suit to challenge the oil palm estate, no charges could be answered until a decision had been made as to the status of the land.

The Iban were represented pro bono by a senior Iban lawyer who is a highly respected indigenous leader, former Deputy Chief Minister and former Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Datuk Daniel Tajem.

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