SANDAKAN: Two logging companies were acquitted by the Sessions Court here today on a charge with conducting illegal logging in a forest reserve in Tongod from 2016 to 2017.

Judge Darmafikri Abu Adam, in delivering his judgment after the defence trail, said the court found the two companies, Maxwell Sdn Bhd and Better Green Sdn Bhd, had succeeded in raising reasonable doubts against the prosecution’s case and therefore, acquitted and discharged both the companies.

0n Jan 20, 2020, Maxwell Sdn Bhd, represented by its director Wong Shu Kiew, and Better Green, represented by its director Cheung Chau Seng, pleaded not guilty to illegal felling of 503 trees at the Trus Madi Forest Reserve in Tongod between Sept 5, 2016, and Nov 19, 2017.

The charge, framed under Section 20 (2) of the Sabah Forest Enactment 1968, provides a jail term of between a year and 20 years, and a fine of up to RM500,000, upon conviction.

The two companies also pleaded not guilty to a charge framed under Section 23 (2) of the same enactment, with illegal felling of 54 trees at Kampung Lalampas, Tongod, between Sept 5, 2016 and Nov 19, 2017.

Eleven witnesses were called to testify in the hearing of the case which began in March 2020, while the defence trial was held in January this year, with four witnesses called to testify.

Prosecuting officer from the Sabah Forestry Department Peter Maurice Lidadun prosecuted, while both the companies were represented by counsel Ronny Cham. - Bernama

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