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Policemen face trial over Indonesian stadium disaster

Featured image credit: Nick Agus Arya on Unsplash

Five men charged for their role in October’s stadium disaster in Indonesia are this week facing trial.

More than 130 people died during a stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang on October 1 as Arema FC faced Persebaya Surabaya.

The stampede occurred as fans invaded the pitch before being met with teargas from police. The ensuing panic led to fans rushing towards the stadium’s exits, which caused a crush.

In the days after the disaster, six people were charged with negligence causing death. Indonesia’s police chief, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, said that they included three police officers and three responsible for the match and its security, including the head of Arema FC’s organising committee and one of the club’s security officers.

The AFP news agency reports that the three police officers, a match organiser and a security official are this week facing trial, with a sixth suspect, said to be a former director of the Indonesian league’s organising body, remaining under police investigation.

The trial commenced yesterday (Monday), with the men appearing in court by video link for security reasons. If found guilty, they will face a maximum of five years in prison.

Indonesian club football was suspended following the disaster and only resumed behind closed doors last month. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said that the stadium will be demolished and rebuilt according to FIFA standards as part of plans to “thoroughly transform” Indonesian football.

With the support of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) set up a taskforce to increase public security capacity following the disaster. In the days following the incident, Widodo also ordered an audit of all football stadiums in the country.

Indonesia is due to host the FIFA U20 World Cup this year and FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said the tournament will go ahead as scheduled.