SURABAYA, Indonesia, March 9 (Reuters) – 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”, judge Abu Achmad Shiddqi Hamsya said at the court in Surabaya. He was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.
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 told Reuters 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.
Reporting by Prasto Wardoyo in Surabaya and Ananda Teresia, Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Editing by Martin Petty, Kanupriya Kapoor
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