The National Police has launched an internal probe over the firing of tear gas at Kanjuruhan Stadium, which led to the death of 125 soccer spectators on Oct. 1.
The National Police’s Special Inspectorate (Itsus) team and the Internal Affairs Division (Propam) are investigating 18 officers who fired tear gas to quell a riot on that tragic evening in Malang, East Java.
“They will also look into the police’s chain of command in the security management [of the soccer match],” National Police spokesman Inspector General Dedi Prasetyo said during a press conference in Malang today.
The East Java Police previously justified the use of tear gas — which is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA — as a last resort measure against an escalating riot. Some 3,000 out of 42,000 spectators reportedly stormed the pitch to express their anger that the home team, Arema, had lost to arch rivals Persebaya.
The tear gas triggered panic among the thousands that had remained in the stadium, leading to a deadly stampede that killed 125 and injured hundreds more. Some witnesses have said that police fired the tear gas indiscriminately — even at the stands, where children were present.
The Commission for the Protection of Indonesian Children (KPAI) said 17 children died in the incident.
While the pitch invasion and rioting might have claimed some casualties on their own, it’s hard to imagine the death toll being this large had tear gas been taken out of the equation.
Separately, Dedi said National Police investigators will question other parties responsible for the soccer match, including the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), the East Java Sports Agency, and Arema as the host team.
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