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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 11:51 GMT
Jakarta to try US mining workers
Five employees of US gold mining firm Newmont are to stand trial in Indonesia over pollution allegations.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said the men would be tried in early January and could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

Mr Witoelar said the Indonesian government was determined to pursue the case, despite warnings that a trial could scare away foreign investors.

Newmont has denied its operations polluted Buyat Bay, in North Sulawesi.

The row began in August, when residents of the bay reported to police that pollutants from the site - owned by Newmont Minahasa Raya, a subsidiary of the US-based Newmont Mining Corporation - had caused skin diseases and tumours among the local population.

Tests have since produced conflicting results about the bay's water quality.

Industry groups and the US embassy have already warned that taking the case to court could harm foreign investment in Indonesia.

But Mr Witoelar dismissed such fears, saying: "I am sure that foreign investors won't be scared away."

"I and the president personally guarantee to protect companies who manage their operations well."

The five men who face trial include three Indonesians, an American and an Australian.

They were arrested in September and detained for over a month.

Indonesia arrests over US mine
24 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Newmont cleared in Indonesia
19 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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