Indonesian soccer tragedy trial for negligence begins

Jakarta, Jan 16 (EFE).- A court in the Indonesian city of Surabaya began Monday the trial against five people accused of negligence during riots at a soccer stadium, which left more than 135 dead and half a thousand injured after a match played in October.

The trial began in the court of Surabaya, in the province of East Java, amid heightened security to avoid possible protests, also limiting the number of attendees and journalists and prohibiting the session’s live broadcast.

According to the documents attached to the process, the five defendants, including three policemen, will be tried for alleged negligence in the events of Oct. 1, when a crowd stormed the field during a match at Kanjuruhan stadium in the city of Malang. They clashed with security forces, who responded with tear gas canisters and caused panic.

The violent response caused a stampede that caused 137 deaths, including more than 30 minors, and more than 460 injuries, in what is considered one of the worst tragedies in the history of world soccer.

The five accused for their alleged responsibility in the chaotic reaction to the invasion of the pitch are the president of the organizing committee of the Arema club, Abdul Haris; the head of stadium security, Suko Sutrisno; the commander of an East Java Police Mobile Brigade, Hasdarmawan; Malang Police Operations Section Chief Wahyu Setyo Pranoto and Malang Police Chief Bambang Sidik Achmadi.

The accused will testify before the court via teleconference and it is expected that the trial, in which some 140 witnesses must also be heard, will be held in a “marathon” format, with hearings scheduled three times a week.

After the Malang tragedy, whose terror images went around the world, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, announced the creation of an independent commission to determine those responsible for the fatal outcome and investigate the actions of the police.

Within the investigation framework, authorities detected errors by police during the match, played between the local team Arema and the visiting team Persebaya Surabaya, such as the partial closure of some exits and other stadium security breaches that were unresolved since 2020.

They also determined that many of the victims died of suffocation and fractures when they tried to escape due to the large crowd of people after the launch of tear gas, pointed out by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission as the main trigger for the stampede.

The tragedy also led to the creation of a joint working group between the Indonesian government and FIFA to improve security measures at stadiums as the country prepares to host the Under-20 World Cup between May and June. EFE


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