Indonesia sentences policeman for negligence in stampede that killed 135

Jakarta, Mar 16 (EFE).- An Indonesian court sentenced a policeman Thursday to more than a year in jail for negligence in connection with a stampede at a soccer stadium that killed more than 135 people in October, while he acquitted two other defendants of the same charges.

The court in the city of Surabaya, in the province of East Java, found the commander of a Mobile Police Brigade, Hasdarmawan, guilty and sentenced him to one year and six months in prison for his involvement in the chaotic response, authorities during a soccer match at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the city of Malang, local media Detik reported.

The court acquitted Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, head of the Operations section of the Malang Police, and Bambang Sidik Achmadi, head of a reserve unit of the Malang Police, saying they had no responsibility in the riots, which left more than 135 dead and some 484 injured.

The court found Hasdarmawan violated articles 359 and 360 of the Indonesian Penal Code, causing him to “cause death or injury through negligence,” and sentenced him to one year and six months in prison of the three years requested by the Prosecutor’s Office.

However, the three magistrates of the court said that, as for the other two agents involved in this trial, “it has not been legally and convincingly proven” that the detainees had responsibility in the accusations presented by the Prosecutor’s Office.

The case dates back to the events on Oct. 1, when dozens of fans of the local club Arema FC stormed onto the pitch of the Kanjuruhan stadium in the city of Malang and clashed with the security forces. They responded using their batons and throwing tear gas – prohibited by FIFA – which spread panic and caused a general stampede.

Police have been accused of excessive force and, shortly after, Indonesia launched an intense investigation to find out those responsible for what is considered one of the worst tragedies in the world of global soccer.

After the verdict was announced, the families of the victims and the Arema FC fans’ association described the outcome as “disappointing” and said they would take legal measures to reverse the decision.

“It is a very disappointing verdict and without a sense of justice, especially for the families of the victims of the Kanjuruhan tragedy” and “of course we will take measures in various aspects that can restore justice to us,” said Dyan Berdinandri, coordinator of the Tim Gabungan Aremania group, representing the club’s fans and the families of the victims.

This same court convicted two people in charge of the stadium in early March for negligence and handed a sentence of one year and six months in prison for Adbul Harris, president of the Arema organizing committee, and one year for the head of stadium security Suko Sutrisno.

The investigations pointed to various irregularities in the field at the time of the tragedy, such as the partial closure of some of the exits, and added that many of the fatalities, including two police officers and 33 minors aged 4 to 17, died from suffocation and injuries when they tried to flee. EFE


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