Football Match Officials Killed 135 Persons
Information reaching Naija News House says that Football Match Officials Killed 135 Persons
A football club organiser and its chief of security were jailed by an Indonesian court on Thursday on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of 135 people when police fired tear gas inside a stadium last October, setting off a panicked run for the exits. The disaster in Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java’s Malang city was among the world’s worst sporting tragedies.
The incident took place in October 2022 when a tense match in Malang, East Java, between bitter rivals Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya ended in chaos, with a pitch invasion and police responding with volleys of tear gas which choked onlookers and forced crowds to flee to exits – some of which were locked – resulting in the deadly crush.
The panel of three judges at Surabaya District Court, which was under heavy police guard, convicted Abdul Haris, the Arema FC Organising Committee chair, and the club’s security chief, Suko Sutrisno, of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm following a nearly two-month trial.
About 140 witnesses testified during the trial. Haris was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Sutrisno to 12 months, far below the more than six years sought by prosecutors for each of them.
Match organiser Abdul Haris was found guilty on Thursday of “negligence causing people to die”, said the judge at the court in Surabaya city, located some 780km (484 miles) east of the capital, Jakarta.
“I am sentencing the defendant to a year and a half in prison,” presiding judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya said.
The judges also found a stadium 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 police officers – who were also charged with offences following the disaster at the Kanjuruhan Stadium – will have their verdicts decided at a later date.
The legal team for match official Abdul Haris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington, reporting from Jakarta, said the court proceeding focused on the officials responsible for the ill-fated match.
“What we heard from the prosecution is that the organising committee, the match officials, well they had a responsibility to ensure that spectators were safe, that the stadium gates were unlocked, that evacuation routes were clear,” Washington said.
“The response that we heard from the defence was that, even though, yes, capacity may have been an issue – more than 43,000 tickets were sold for this match – in previous matches, the same amount of people had attended matches at that stadium … and there had been no safety incidents,” she said.
The defence also “pointed the finger at police, putting the blame very much on police who fired the tear gas”, Washington added.
Video footage from the night of the tragedy showed police firing tear gas not only at fans who had invaded the pitch but also at spectators in the stands.
“That resulted in people panicking and running for the gates only to find that many of the gates were closed, were locked, and they could not escape from the tear gas-filled stadium,” Washington said.
Investigators from Indonesia’s human rights body also placed most of the blame on the police for the “indiscriminate” and “excessive” use of tear gas on the night, she added.
That investigation found that police had fired 45 rounds of tear gas into crowds at the stadium, media reported.
Football’s world governing body FIFA has banned the use of tear gas as a crowd control measure inside stadiums.