Deadly stampede in Indonesia: the police in the hot seat
The match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya have turned tragic in Indonesia.
Indonesian police were in the hot seat on Tuesday, accused by supporters of having aggravated a crowd movement which killed 131 people in a stadium this weekend, one of the worst tragedies in football history.
In the face of public anger, sanctions fell on the police officers found responsible for the deadly stampede after a match in the football stadium in Malang (East Java), when the police began to send large quantities of tear gas to keep the crowd under control, witnesses said.
Regional Police Chief Nico Afinta apologized. I am concerned, saddened and at the same time sorry for the shortcomings within the security apparatus, he said.
The death toll also rose to 131 on Tuesday, with six more victims succumbing to their injuries, according to local health agency official Wiyanto Wijoyo.
Saturday evening, the stands of the Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang were full of thousands of young Aremania, supporters who came to see their team Arema FC face that of the neighboring city of Persebaya Surabaya .
But after their first 3-2 defeat in decades, supporters took to the field to question players and managers.
Police described the situation as a riot . But supporters accused law enforcement of overreacting.
Police tried to control the crowd on the pitch by force, with batons, according to witnesses and video footage, but this encouraged more fans to come and lend a hand to those already on the pitch. p>
If there were riots, the tear gas should have been aimed at the field, not the stands, judged Danny Agung Prasetyo, coordinator of supporters of the city. Arema FC.
Local club supporters set up a complaints center in Malang on Monday, and announced plans to prosecute police officers found responsible for randomly targeting crowds trapped in the stands.
The city's police chief was sacked on Monday and nine officers were suspended, while 19 officers were questioned over the disaster at the stadium, where only supporters were present of Arema FC, National Police Director Dedi Prasetyo explained on Monday.
The suspended officers belonged to the Mobile Brigade (Brimob), a paramilitary police unit known for its aggressive crowd management methods, he said.
The services of Indonesian police intelligence had alerted the organizing committee to potential clashes at the match, the Indonesian National Police Commission revealed in its initial assessment on Tuesday. The use of tear gas was also not provided for in the device.
The Indonesian Football Association on Tuesday banned two officials of local club Arema FC for life and fined them 250 million Indonesian rupiah (about C$22,000).
The government has suspended all matches in the national premier league and launched an investigation into the tragedy. It could last two to three weeks.
But calls for an independent investigation grew as details of the bloody Saturday-Sunday evening emerged.
There is no directive to fire tear gas or close doors, Albertus Wahyurudhanto, a member of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), explained in a press conference on Tuesday.
Sign of the anger of the supporters, carcasses of burnt police vehicles were visible in front of the stadium and many graffiti appeared to criticize the police. Our friends died here, accused one of them.
New wakes were scheduled for Tuesday, after flowers and petals were laid the day before outside the stadium in tribute to the victims.
Violence in Indonesian football is a long-standing issue and Persebaya Surabaya supporters had been banned for this game. But the supporters claim not to be at the origin of the tragedy, the worst ever recorded in an Indonesian stadium.
You could see that something bad could happen. That's the kind of fear you have when you go to see a match here, says Pangeran Siahaan, an Indonesian football expert. There are a lot of dangers every time you go to a football stadium in Indonesia.
On Tuesday, the European Football Federation (UEFA) announced that #x27;a minute's silence in memory of the 131 people who died in the stampede would take place ahead of all European football fixtures scheduled for this week.