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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 17:34 GMT
Newmont detentions 'not legal'
A court in Indonesia has ruled that the detention of five executives of an American gold-mining company over a pollution scare was illegal.

The five men - employees of a local subsidiary of the Newmont Mining Corporation - were arrested in September and held for a month.

The men were detained over allegations that mercury released into the sea made local residents ill.

Newmont has repeatedly denied it polluted Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi.

The row began in August, when residents of the bay said 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.

Five Newmont employees - including three Indonesians, an American and an Australian - were arrested in September and detained for over a month.

Despite Thursday's ruling, they still face trial in January. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

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

Jakarta to try US mining workers
08 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia arrests over US mine
24 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Newmont cleared in Indonesia
19 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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