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The Kuantan High Court will decide on April 6 whether to allow two logging firms to commence contempt of court proceedings against eight villagers and their lawyer.
This was part of a lawsuit between the firms - Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd - and Kampung Baharu, a village in Jerantut, Pahang.
The companies obtained an injunction on Nov 5, 2020, to stop the eight defendants from blocking access to a contested 202.61ha area in the Jerantut Tambahan forest reserve.
They are also suing the villagers for making accusations about them.
The villagers’ lawyer Charles Hector Fernandez said the court will also decide on his clients’ applications to amend their pleadings and transfer the case to the Temerloh High Court.
“The court fixed April 6 for the hearing of the plaintiff’s application for leave to commence contempt proceedings against me and the eight defendants.
“More about the other two applications will follow,” he told Malaysiakini after yesterday’s hearing.
The contempt proceedings were initiated over a letter Fernandez sent to a Jerantut Forestry Office officer last December on behalf of his clients in preparation for the lawsuit.
The logging firms contend that the letter constituted a violation of the injunction they previously obtained which bars the defendants from blocking access into the contested area.
The companies are suing the villagers for making accusations against them online about their logging activities.
They contend that they have all the necessary permits. The villagers argue that they are within their rights to protest the logging as they rely on the forest to earn a living.
NGO Aliran previously remarked that initiating contempt proceedings against Fernandez constituted a “travesty of justice” as he was simply seeking information to prepare for the case.
The logging firms are represented by Messrs Jacob Goldie S S Chew. The law firm’s representative previously declined comment citing sub judice concerns.