Indonesia stampede: Football officials found guilty of ‘negligence’ over deadly crush that killed 135

Two match officials have been found guilty of negligence over the deadly stampede at a football stadium in Indonesia that killed 135 people in October last year.

The incident, described as one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, occurred on 1 October last year at Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java province’s Malang city after Arema FC lost to Persebaya Surabaya. Both teams are said to be bitter rivals.

Police responded to the riot by firing teargas on the crowd, causing panic. Fifa has banned the use of teargas as a crowd-control measure in stadiums.

“We have already done a preventive action before finally firing the teargas as [fans] began to attack the police, acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta had said at the time.

The court in Indonesia found the match organiser Abdul Haris guilty of negligence and gave him a sentence of 18 months in prison. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of six years and eight months.

“I am sentencing the defendant to a year and a half in prison,” presiding judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya told the court in Surabaya, the capital of East Java.

Security official Suko Sutrisno was also found guilty of negligence and sentenced to one year in prison.

“The defendant did not anticipate the chaos because there has never been an emergency situation before. The defendant also did not understand his job as a security official well,” the judge said.

Local media reported that both men have a week to appeal the verdict.

Three police officers – who were also charged with offences following the disaster at the Kanjuruhan Stadium – will have their verdicts decided at a later date, reports said.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said shortly after the disaster that his government would demolish and rebuild the football stadium.

“For Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, we will demolish and rebuild it according to Fifa standards,” said the president, popularly known as Jokowi.

A fact-finding team formed by the government soon after the disaster concluded that the “excessive” and “indiscriminate” use of teargas by the police was the leading cause of death.

Some 42,000, mostly Arema FC fans, had run onto the football pitch in anger after their team was defeated.

Others threw bottles and other objects at the players. Several police vehicles were also set on fire outside the stadium and visuals showed damaged vehicles inside as well.