Having told IMF to drop dead, Argentina prospers

Section:

From Reuters
Thursday, December 23, 2004

http://www.reuters.com/financeQuoteCompanyNewsArticle.jhtml?
duid=mtfh14503_2004-12-23_11-10-33_jak160713_newsml

JAKARTA -- An Indonesian court said on Thursday the detention of five
executives of a local unit of U.S. gold miner Newmont Mining Corp.
earlier this year was illegal.

But the court said its decision had no bearing on plans by
prosecutors to bring to trial a pollution case against the executives
and subsidiary PT Newmont Minahasa Raya.

The case involves allegations surrounding mercury and arsenic levels
in Buyat Bay near one of Newmont's mines in the far north of Sulawesi
island, 2,200 km (1,400 miles) northeast of Jakarta.

"The court rules the detention, extension of detention, city
detention, and order for regular reporting to police are not legal,"
judge Yohannes E. Binti said.

He said the detentions of the five employees -- an Australian, a U.S.
citizen, and three Indonesians -- had not followed correct procedures
for environmental cases.

"For the prosecutors, this will not affect the case," said Suhandoyo,
a spokesman for the attorney-general's office.

The five spent a month at police headquarters in Jakarta without
formal charges being laid until their release in October and were
subsequently ordered not to leave the North Sulawesi city of Manado.
Under Indonesian law, police can hold suspects for up two months
without formal charges.

Newmont, the world's top gold producer, denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have said they expect to file charges under environmental
laws against six Newmont executives -- the five earlier detained and
one other who was not taken into custody because of health reasons --
and Newmont's local subsidiary next month.

Police completed the final dossier on the case on Thursday.

A government-commissioned probe concluded last month that sediment in
Buyat Bay, near a gold mine run by Minahasa Raya, had significant
levels of arsenic and mercury.

Two earlier studies -- one by the Indonesian government and another
by the World Health Organisation -- concluded Buyat Bay was not
polluted.

A Newmont spokesman said on Wednesday the firm had released 33 tonnes
of mercury into the bay and atmosphere over 4 years but that the
toxic emissions were not at levels harmful to people or the
environment and were in line with Indonesian regulations.

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