An Indonesian court on Thursday acquitted two police officials charged with negligence leading to the deaths of 135 people in October when police fired tear gas inside a stadium, setting off a panicked run for the exits. A third official was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The disaster in Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java’s Malang city was among the world’s worst sporting tragedies. Some 43 children were among the deaths and about 580 spectators were injured.
A panel of three judges at Surabaya District Court, which was under heavy police guard, absolved police officers Pranoto and Achmadi of charges because they found no direct causal link between the defendants’ actions and the deadly crowd crush. The two were released Thursday.
Presiding judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya said the court found that defendant Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, the Malang police head of operations, never ordered the use of tear gas at the match and knew that international soccer governing body FIFA had advised against its use in stadiums.
Amsya said the tear gas ordered by defendant Bambang Sidik Achmadi, head of crowd control, was aimed at the center of the pitch and dissipated in the wind without hitting any spectators.
“The defendant has not been proven legally and convincingly guilty,” Amsya said.
He ordered that the two defendants be released from detention immediately after the decision.
However, the tear gas fired into the stands under Hasdarmawan’s instruction caused a rush to six exits where many fans were crushed or suffocated and died, Amsya said.
Like many Indonesians, Hasdarmawan uses only one name. (Fox)