Indonesia court overturns acquittal of two policemen over stadium deaths

By AFP   August 25, 2023 | 02:46 am PT
Indonesia court overturns acquittal of two policemen over stadium deaths
Family members and supporters of the victims who died in a stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium march in Malang on Aug 10. Photo by AFP
Indonesia’s Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal of two policemen accused of negligence that led to one of the deadliest stadium disasters in football history, jailing them in a decision criticised on Thursday by victims’ families as too lenient.

The crush in the city of Malang last October killed 135 people – including more than 40 children – after police fired tear gas into packed stands following a 3-2 defeat for Arema FC by their fierce East Javan rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Victims’ relatives had voiced despair and broke down in tears after an East Java court ruled in March to let the two Malang officers walk free.

But court documents shared with AFP said the pair – Bambang Sidik Achmadi, 48, and Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, 35 – had been found guilty on Wednesday of negligence causing death and injury.

The ruling came after state prosecutors filed an appeal to challenge the earlier acquittal, the documents showed.

Achmadi was sentenced to two years in prison while Pranoto was handed a two-and-a-half-year jail term.

But family members of people who died at Kanjuruhan Stadium said the decision was not harsh enough.

"It’s a joke again. It’s unfair. It’s just like being punished for stealing a cow," Ms Cholifatul Nur, who lost her 15-year-old son Jofan in the stampede, told AFP.

"The families of the victims are angry and disappointed," the 40-year-old mother added.Prosecutors claimed Pranoto ignored FIFA’s regulation prohibiting the use of tear gas at football matches, while Achmadi was accused of ordering his subordinates to fire tear gas.

"We already lost our respect because they were charged with negligence and not murder," said a lawyer for a family who lost two teenagers in the stampede.

The maximum sentence for non-premeditated murder in Indonesia is 15 years in prison.

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