Indonesia stadium crush verdict draw flak


Indonesian police man jailed over stadium disaster Image: Rizky Wahyu Permana (

An Indonesian court jailed a policeman for 18 months recently over negligence that contributed to one of the worst stadium disasters in the history of football, but the victims’ families voiced despair as two other officers walked free.

‘news24’ stated that several relatives of those killed in last October’s stadium crush broke into tears when the judge read the verdicts on the last day of the trial, with one lawyer saying there had been “no justice” for the families.

A stampede at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Indonesia in October last year killed 135 people – including more than 40 children – and injured more than 320 after police used tear gas to quell a pitch invasion in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

The violence erupted after a 3-2 defeat suffered by host Arema F.C. of East Java’s Malang City at the hands of their fierce East Javan rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

The Kanjuruhan Stadium is a multipurpose stadium in Malang Regency, East Java, Indonesia. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 42,449 spectators. It is the home ground of Arema, a football team in Liga 1. It is named after the Kingdom of Kanjuruhan, an 8th century Hindu kingdom in the present-day Malang area.

The Arema Football Club is an Indonesian professional football club based in Malang, East Java. The club competes in Liga 1, the top flight of Indonesian football. They are considered one of the best and most successful football clubs in the country, and don the nickname ‘Singo Edan’. The Kanjuruhan Stadium serves as their home facility.

The Persebaya Surabaya or simply Persebaya is an Indonesian professional football club based in Surabaya, East Java. It currently plays in Liga 1, the top flight of Indonesian football. It is regarded as one of the most iconic and successful teams in the country, winning numerous Indonesian League titles and tournaments. The 45,000-capacity Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in East Java, Indonesia, serves as their residence.

‘news24’ further stated that when supporters invaded the pitch of the Kanjuruhan Stadium, police fired tear gas, causing a deadly stampede.

The man jailed – Hasdarmawan – who like many Indonesians goes by one name – was a Commander for East Java police’s mobile brigade unit.

Said Judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya, “The defendant failed to predict a situation that was actually quite easy to anticipate. There was an option not to fire (the tear gas) to respond to the supporters’ violence.”

Hasdarmawan had previously denied ordering his subordinates to fire tear gas towards the supporters.

Wearing a white shirt and a face mask, the officer listened quietly as the judge delivered the sentence, which was shorter than the three years prosecutors had asked for.

Moments later, Malang police officer Bambang Sidik Achmadi, also accused of ordering his subordinates to fire tear gas, was found not guilty by the court.

Judge Amsya said the charges had “not been proven” and the defendant was free to go.

The court also found another Malang police officer Wahyu Setyo Pranoto not guilty.

The prosecutors had initially claimed Pranoto ignored FIFA’s regulation prohibiting the use of tear gas at a football match.

‘No Justice’

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

The former Director of the company that runs Indonesia’s premier league has also been named as a suspect and remains under investigation.

Stated Imam Hidayat, a lawyer who represents some of the victims, “The victims have said they are not satisfied with the verdict. There is no justice for them. This has further proven that this Kanjuruhan case has been manipulated.”

Hidayat said the case was marred with inconsistencies from the beginning – “There were so many inconsistencies, might as well declare all of them not guilty.”

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

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

Another relative of the victim said the acquittal of the two defendants has hurt his family.

Said Muhammad Rifkiyanto, who lost his 22-year-old cousin, “Our family is very disappointed by the judge’s ruling that acquitted the defendants… we were hoping the sentence would be harsher than the prosecutors’ recommendation, not lower.”

The Government-backed National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has previously said deaths in the Kanjuruhan stampede were caused by the tear gas and the police response.

The tragedy forced Indonesian officials to confront failings in various aspects of the domestic game, which has been blighted for years by shaky infrastructure, mismanagement and violence.

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered an investigation and pledged to demolish and rebuild the Kanjuruhan Stadium according to FIFA standards.

A task force investigating the crush has called on the head of Indonesia’s football association and all the members of its executive committee to resign, but so far they have refused to do so.

FIFA head Gianni Infantino in October last year called the crush “one of the darkest days for football”.

The Government also suspended all competitive football games, but league matches resumed last month.

Indonesia is now getting ready to host in May and June the Under-20 World Cup in various Cities.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) is the national human rights institution of Indonesia. As with other national human rights institutions, its principal functions are the protection and promotion of human rights.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup™ is the biennial football world championship tournament for FIFA members’ men’s national teams with players under the age of 20.

The 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup™ will be the 23rd edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup™, the biennial international men’s youth football championship contested by the under-20 national teams of the member-associations of FIFA, since its inception in 1977 as the FIFA World Youth Championship. It will be hosted by Indonesia from May 20th-June 11th, 2023.

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