Trial for Negligence Accused in Indonesian Soccer Tragedy Commences
** Indonesian Stadium Tragedy Trial Begins Amid Heightened Security **
On January 16, 2023, the trial of five defendants started in the court of Surabaya, East Java, following last October’s tragedy that took place in a football stadium and left more than 130 dead and over 460 injured.
The defendants, which include three policemen, are being tried for alleged negligence in the events of October 1, when a crowd stormed the field during a match at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the city of Malang and collided with the security forces, who responded with tear gas canisters and caused panic, leading to a stampede that ended in 137 deaths and 460 injuries, one of the worst tragedies in the history of world soccer.
Due to possible protests, the court has prohibited the real-time transmission of the session and limited the number of attendees and journalists, while the five accused will testify before the court via teleconference. Over 140 witnesses must also be heard and hearings are scheduled three times a week.
The tragedy prompted the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to create an independent commission to determine those responsible for the fatal outcome and investigate the police’s actions. After detecting a series of errors, such as the partial closure of some of the exits and other security failures not resolved since 2020, it was determined that many of the victims died of suffocation and fractures when trying to escape from the large crowd caused by the launch of tear gas. The Human Rights Commission targeted the tear gas as the main trigger for the stampede.
The tragedy also led to the creation of a joint working group between the Indonesian government and FIFA to improve stadium security measures as the Asian country prepares to host the U-20 World Cup in May/June.