A local court in Peru today reversed a ruling against employees of a company charged with illegal deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, effectively absolving them of crimes associated with converting rainforest into a cacao plantation. The move undercuts a years-long investigation into the deforestation and “sets a terrible precedent” as Peru struggles to combat rising forest loss in the region, say prosecutors and environmentalists. Today the Superior Court of Justice of Loreto was expected to ratify the sentences of three Cacao del Perú Norte SAC company officials for their involvement in the clearance of 1,950 hectares of forest in the Peruvian Amazon outside the town of Tamshiyacu. Instead, the three men saw their sentences and fines dismissed by Superior Court Judge Guillermo Bendezú. Peru’s Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency (OEFA) sanctioned Tamshi SAC with a fine of 129 million soles (around 37 million dollars) for having implemented a large-scale project without securing the proper permits. Photo: FEMA Loreto. Former Cacao del Perú Norte SAC general manager Rubén Antonio Espinoza, operations manager Ernesto Vega Delgado, and field staff Giovanny Cubas Ramírez had been sentenced in July 2019 for illegal trafficking of timber forest products and obstruction. Their sentences ranged from four to eight years, while Espinoza was found responsible for civil reparations amounting to 15 million soles (about $4 million). The men appealed decision, which led to today’s outcome. Today’s ruling frustrated Peruvian authorities who were hoping the case would set a precedent to deter other companies from violating the country’s…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer