Indonesian court jails two football match officials over deadly stadium crush
The football stadium crush in October at a venue in the East Java city of Malang killed 135 people.
Surabaya: An Indonesian court on Thursday jailed two football match officials for negligence over one of the worst stadium disasters in the sport’s history. The crush in October at a venue in the East Java city of Malang killed 135 people after police fired tear gas into packed stands when supporters invaded the pitch.
Hundreds of people fled for narrow exits, resulting in a stampede that left many trampled or suffocated to death, including more than 40 children.
Abdul Haris, a match organiser, was found guilty of negligence and handed 18 months in prison. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of six years and eight months.
“I am sentencing the defendant to a year and a half in prison,” presiding judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya told the court in the city of Surabaya.
It is Indonesia’s first ruling on the tragedy.
The judges also found security official Suko Sutrisno guilty of negligence and sentenced him to one year in prison.
“The defendant did not anticipate the chaos because there has never been an emergency situation before. The defendant also did not understand his job as a security official well,” the judge said.
Both men have seven days to appeal the verdict.
Three local police officers have also been charged over the incident and are awaiting verdicts.
The former director of the company that runs Indonesia’s premier league has been named as a suspect and remains under police investigation.
Police described the October 1 pitch invasion as a riot and said two officers were killed, but survivors accused the police of using excessive force.
Officers were seen kicking and beating supporters on the pitch before indiscriminately firing tear gas into the stands.
Football’s world governing body FIFA outlaws the use of such riot control methods inside stadiums.
The tragedy has forced Indonesian officials to confront failings in various aspects of the domestic game, which has been blighted for years by shaky infrastructure, mismanagement and violence.
Indonesia’s National Police sacked its local chiefs for both Malang city and the province of East Java after the tragedy.
The government also suspended all competitive football games but league matches resumed last month, without fans in the stands.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered an investigation and pledged to demolish and rebuild the Kanjuruhan Stadium according to FIFA standards.
A task force investigating the crush has called on the head of Indonesia’s football association and all the members of its executive committee to resign, but they have refused to do so.
The match was a clash between fierce East Javan rivals Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya, with Arema losing 3-2.
FIFA head Gianni Infantino in October called the crush “one of the darkest days for football”.
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