Two Indonesian match officials jailed over deadly soccer stampede

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An Indonesian court handed prison sentences to two soccer match officials on Thursday after finding them guilty of negligence over one of the world’s deadliest stadium stampedes.

The October 2022 derby match in Malang, East Java, between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya ended in chaos with 135 spectators killed, many crushed as they fled for exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd.

”One match official Abdul Haris, was found guilty due to his negligence causing people to die and get severely injured. He was sentenced to a year and a half in prison,” judge Abu Achmad Shiddqi Hamsya said at the court in Surabaya.

The judges also found security officer Suko Sutrisno guilty of negligence and jailed him for one year. Both men worked for Arema FC and have been banned from soccer-related activities for life by the country’s football federation.

An investigation by Indonesia’s human rights commission found the main cause of the stampede was police firing into the crowd 45 rounds of tear gas, which soccer’s world governing body FIFA has banned as a crowd control measure.

Investigators also said the stadium was filled beyond capacity.

The lawyer for both match officials on Friday said they would not appeal the verdicts as a form of moral responsibility to the Arema FC fans and apologised to them.

One victim’s father, 52-year-old Miftahuddin, said the verdicts were lacking.

“How was that sentence so light?” he said, adding a tougher sentence would have given relief to his daughter who is in another realm.

Three police officers are also charged with the same offences and their cases will be decided at a later date.