Police officer sentenced to 18 months in prison for stampede that left 130 dead during soccer match in Indonesia

File – File image of a vigil for those killed during an ambush at a soccer stadium in Malang, Indonesia. – Adi Pranata/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced a police officer to 18 months in prison for negligence in the case of a stampede during a soccer match in October 2022 at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang that killed 135 people.

While the court has exonerated two other people charged in the same case, the officer has convicted the officer, identified as Hasdarmawan, who allegedly headed the riot police unit that acted that day and used tear gas to disperse the crowd that invaded the field.

However, the judges exonerated Wahyu Setyo Pranoto and Bambang Sidik Achmadi, considering that there is insufficient evidence to prove that they acted negligently and caused consequent harm to those present.

Tear gas released by the police caused panic among the thousands of spectators on the field who fled towards the stadium exits, causing a stampede. Most of the victims suffocated to death after being trapped in these areas.

Earlier this month, a court sentenced the main man in charge of organizing the match that day to 18 months in prison. The head of security, meanwhile, has been sentenced to one year in prison.

During the match, fans of the Arema soccer team – playing against Persebaya Surabaya – stormed the field. Indonesian government reports found indications that the stampede was precisely the result of the use of tear gas by the police, and an investigation was opened into the actions of the security forces on that day.