An Indonesian court has cleared two police officers of negligence charges over a deadly soccer crush that killed 135 people and injured about 580 others in October last year.
The court on Thursday found no direct causal link between the actions of Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, the Malang police head of operations, and Bambang Sidik Achmadi, head of crowd control, and the tragedy that occurred at Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java’s Malang city.
The two officers were released from detention after the verdict. They had been accused of failing to prevent or stop the use of tear gas by other police officers inside the stadium during a match between local teams Arema FC and Persib Bandung.
However, the court convicted Hasdarmawan, who was head of East Java police’s mobile brigade unit at the time, of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison — much lower than the three years sought by prosecutors.
The court said Hasdarmawan had ordered his subordinates to fire tear gas into the stands where thousands of fans were packed. The tear gas triggered a stampede as people tried to escape through six exits that were not enough to accommodate them.
Some 43 children were among those who died from suffocation or being crushed in what was one of the world’s worst sporting disasters.
Hasdarmawan said he would consider appealing his sentence. Prosecutors also said they might appeal all three cases within seven days.
The soccer crush has sparked public outrage and calls for accountability and justice for the victims and their families. An investigation by Indonesia’s human rights commission found that there were serious violations of human rights by both police and stadium officials.
Earlier this month, two other defendants were sentenced to prison for their roles in the tragedy. Abdul Haris, who chaired the organizing committee for Arema FC, got 18 months in prison. Suko Sutrisno, the club’s security chief, got 12 months.