On November 19, 2009 the community handed over the confiscated bulldozer keys to the police, after the company agreed to follow an indigenous ceremony and give compensation for violating the community’s customs in the form of 21 tajau (urns) and related offerings, with financial compensation for the destroyed plants to be resolved at a later date. Rather than honor the community’s request to keep the bulldozers as evidence in the case, the police returned them to the palm oil company which continued to use them in the area.
The palm oil plantation’s encroachment on indigenous lands raises questions about the authorities willingness to defend indigenous rights, which are protected in the Indonesian Constitution and the Human Rights law of 1999. The community and their legal representatives have also raised further questions about the operations of the Sinar Mas subsidiary, PT. BNM, with the accusations that the company:
1. Violated Indonesian law 18/2004 regarding plantations, by failing to adequately inform the community of Silat Hulu of their rights and reach and agreement to purchase or use their lands.
2. Failed to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project, in violation of government regulation PP 27/1999.
3. Cleared the disputed area before obtaining formal permission to do so, in volation of regulation 2/1999 from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Three months after the equipment had been returned, Japin and Vitalis Andi received a return summons from the police. The case against them was submitted to the Ketapang Prosecutor’s office, and on February 22, 2010 the two were detained in the Ketapang jail. The pair’s lawyer immediately protested the grounds of their arrest, as the suspects had been fulfilling their monthly reporting requirements and no evidence had been brought against them. On March 2, the Indigenous Peoples' Defense Counsel for Andi-Japin, which included 22 prominent lawyers, submitted a formal request to release the pair on bail with 500 local and national figures acting as guarantors, but the request was denied. The two were brought to trial on March 9 in Ketapang, and hundreds of supporters filled the Ketapang courthouse. At the second hearing, on Thursday March 18, the judge agreed to drop the charges against Japin and Vitalis Andi due to lack of evidence, and they were released.
While the issues surrounding the personal freedom of Japin and Vitalis Andi appear to have been resolved, the community’s larger concerns remained unanswered. The two were merely representing the community’s desire to stop palm oil plantations from taking over their lands, and their arrest was merely a warning to the community, in an attempt to stifle dissent. However, hundreds of villagers made the five hour journey to attend the court hearings, and have shown that they remain opposed to Sinar Mas despite the intimidation.