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Fury as officials cleared over deadly Indonesia football stadium crush


amilies of victims at the 2022 deadly football stadium crush in Indonesia have spoken of their anger after two police officers were cleared of wrongdoing.

One police officer was jailed but two others were cleared of negligence over crowd control measures following the local football match five months ago that ended in tragedy.

Among the chaos at the clash between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya, 135 spectators were killed and many other crushed as they fled for exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang. It became one of the world’s deadliest stampedes.

Policeman Hasdarmawan was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison at an Indonesian court on Thursday for what Judge Abu Achmad Shiddqi Hamsya said was “negligence in causing people to die or sustain severe injuries.”

Authorities had earlier said Hasdarmawan ordered police to fire tear gas, which FIFA has banned as a crowd control measure.

Hasdarmawan at a courthouse in Surabaya

/ AFP via Getty Images

Last week, two Arema match officials were also jailed for negligence.

But two other officers, Bambang Sidik Achmadi and Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, have been cleared of wrongdoing and were released on Thursday.

Police had earlier said Bambang had given an order to use tear gas and Wahyu had not acted to stop it. Both had pleaded not guilty.

One of the considerations of the judge acquitting Bambang was that smoke from the tear gas was blown by the wind towards the pitch.

“It had never reached the stand,” said the judge.

Amnesty International Indonesia said authorities had failed to provide justice.

“It sends a dangerous message to members of the security forces who may be reassured they can operate with a free hand and zero consequences,” said its director Usman Hamid.

“This case once again demonstrates the deep-rooted and widespread pattern of violence and abuse of power by security forces in Indonesia.”

Isa Atu Sa’adah, sister of one of the victims said the verdicts were too lenient and all those responsible should be punished evenly.

“The verdict has torn our sense of justice and humanity,” Isa said at the court.

The lawyer for the three defendants said no decision had been made on whether Hasdarmawan would appeal, while East Java’s prosecutor’s office said it was still reviewing the verdict before deciding on an appeal.

An investigation by Indonesia’s human rights commission found the stadium was over capacity and the main cause of the stampede was police firing into the crowd 45 rounds of tear gas.

Indonesian soccer has been fraught with scandals and crowd trouble, with some key fixtures played behind closed doors due to security concerns. Indonesia is preparing to host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in May.

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