Arema match official gets 1.5 years for ‘negligence’ that led to Kanjuruhan disaster

Tear gas being used on spectators at Karunjuhan Stadium on Oct. 1, 2022. Photo: Video screengrab
Tear gas being used on spectators at Karunjuhan Stadium on Oct. 1, 2022. Photo: Video screengrab

Has justice been served? A soccer official has been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for the Oct. 1, 2022 Kanjuruhan Stadium tragedy in Malang, East Java, during which 135 people lost their lives.

Malang’s Arema hosted rivals Persebaya from the East Java capital of Surabaya that day. A stampede ensued after the final whistle, claiming the lives of 135 people and injuring at least 600. While there was an attempt to place the blame on soccer hooliganism, an independent fact-finding team found that police’s excessive use of tear gas — which is banned by FIFA — was the main cause of the deadly stampede.

Cases have since been brought against six people deemed responsible for the tragedy, one of whom being Arema’s chief match official Abdul Haris, whose job it is to organize and ensure that the team’s home matches go off without a hitch.

The Surabaya District Court today sentenced Abdul to 1.5 years in prison after he was found guilty of negligence in doing his job, particularly in anticipating emergency situations.

Abdul’s sentence is far lighter than the six years and eight months public prosecutors demanded.

Separately, the court sentenced Arema security officer Suko Sutrisno to one year in prison for his negligence that led to the disaster. Prosecutors in that case also demanded Suko serve six years and eight months in prison.

Three cops are still on trial for their use of excessive force and unsanctioned methods for crowd control. One suspect, former soccer league Liga Indonesia Baru Chairman Akhmad Hardian Lukita, has yet to stand trial.

The Kanjuruhan Stadium tragedy has gone down as the second deadliest incident in the history of association football worldwide, behind only the 1964 stadium stampede in Peru that killed 328.

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