Six charged over Indonesia stadium disaster

Published October 7, 2022
This picture on October 5, 2022 shows an aerial view of people gathering outside city hall in Malang for a vigil following the October 1 stampede at Kanjuruhan stadium. — AFP
This picture on October 5, 2022 shows an aerial view of people gathering outside city hall in Malang for a vigil following the October 1 stampede at Kanjuruhan stadium. — AFP

MALANG: Indonesia’s police chief on Thursday said six people had been charged over a football stadium disaster that killed 131 at the weekend.

“Based on the investigation and sufficient evidence, we have determined six suspects,” national police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo told a press conference.

The six people charged with negligence causing death include three police officers and three people responsible for the match and its security, including the head of Arema FC’s organising committee and one of the club’s security officers, he said. Two of the police officers under investigation ordered colleagues to fire tear gas, he said.

The third police officer under investigation knew about FIFA’s safety regulations that prohibit the use of crowd control gas at pitchside but did not prevent tear gas being used by colleagues, he said. The suspects face a maximum sentence of five years in prison if found guilty. Prabowo said more people could be charged.

The Indonesian football association had earlier banned the Arema FC organising committee chief and a security officer from football for life. The announcement came as anger grew over the police response to a pitch invasion.

Officers reacted by firing tear gas into packed stands as fans of Arema FC tried to approach players following their defeat to fierce rivals Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday evening.

The police chief said 11 officers in total fired tear gas “to prevent more spectators from taking to the field” but caused spectators “to panic and... try to immediately leave the arena.” They fired eight canisters into the stands and three onto the pitch, according to the police investigation.

Hundreds of people fled for small exits, resulting in a crush that left many trampled or suffocating to death. Witnesses said the gates were closed. Prabowo said the “doors were not opened completely...and the stewards were not in place” when the match ended. In the crush, “most of the dead victims suffered from asphyxia”.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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