Families dismayed as Indonesia court acquits two police over stadium crush that left 135 dead | Indonesia

An Indonesian court has acquitted two senior police officers charged with negligence over a stadium crowd crush last year that killed 135 people, angering relatives of those who died in one of football’s worst tragedies.

Another officer was jailed for 18 months but families of the victims said he had been treated too leniently.

Police had been blamed for triggering the deadly crush on 1 October at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang by firing teargas after supporters invaded the pitch following a 3-2 defeat for Arema FC by their fierce East Javan rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Several relatives of 135 victims, who included 40 children, broke into tears when the judge read out the verdicts on Thursday on the last day of the trial, with one lawyer saying there had been “no justice” for the families.

Malang police officer Bambang Sidik Achmadi, who was accused of ordering his subordinates to fire teargas, was found not guilty by the court in Surabaya, capital of East Java.

Presiding judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya said the charges had “not been proven”, and the defendant was free to go.

Fellow Malang police officer Wahyu Setyo Pranoto was also found not guilty.

Prosecutors had initially claimed Pranoto ignored Fifa’s regulation prohibiting the use of teargas at a football match.

One officer, Hasdarmawan, who goes by one name, was jailed for 18 months. The commander for East Java police’s mobile brigade unit had previously denied ordering his subordinates to fire teargas towards the supporters but the judge said he had “failed to predict a situation that was actually quite easy to anticipate”. “There was an option not to fire [the teargas] to respond to the supporters’ violence,” the judge said.

The officer listened quietly as the judge delivered the sentence, which was shorter than the three years prosecutors had asked for. He has seven days to file an appeal.

Police and soldiers amid tear gas smoke at the soccer match at Kanjuruhan stadium on 1 October 2022. Photograph: Yudha Prabowo/AP

Several relatives of the victims broke into tears upon hearing the verdicts.

“I am certainly not satisfied and disappointed,” said Isatus Sa’adah, who lost her 16-year-old brother in the disaster. “I was hoping they would get a fair sentence … I feel like justice has been shredded.”

Muhammad Rifkiyanto, who lost his 22-year-old cousin, said his family was “very disappointed” by the acquittals.

Lawyer Imam Hidayat, who represents some of the victims, said the case was marred by inconsistencies.

“The victims have said they are not satisfied with the verdict. There is no justice for them,” Hidayat said.

Hundreds of university students dressed in black staged a protest in Malang following the verdicts.

Rights group Amnesty International said “the authorities are once again failing to provide justice to victims of excessive force”.

Last week, the court sentenced the head of the match organising committee, Abdul Haris, and security official Suko Sutrisno to 18 months and one year in prison respectively.

The government-backed National Commission of Human Rights has previously said deaths in the Kanjuruhan crush were caused by the teargas and the police response.

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