Indonesia creates team to investigate soccer stampede; police use of tear gas in focus

  • Human rights commission questions use of tear gas
  • Thirty-two children among the 125 killed in stampede
  • Funerals are held for the dead in Malang city

MALANG, Indonesia, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Indonesia has set up an independent team to investigate a crowd at a soccer stadium that killed 125 people, including 32 children, authorities said on Monday, while the country’s human rights commission questioned police use. of tear gas.

Terrified spectators stampeded as they tried to escape the packed stadium in Malang, East Java, on Saturday after police fired tear gas to disperse fans of the losing home team who ran onto the pitch at the end of the BRI League 1 match. in the national league.

At least 32 of the victims were children between the ages of 3 and 17, Nahar, an official at the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, told Reuters. The official had earlier put the child death toll at 17.

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“My family and I didn’t think it would turn out like this,” said Endah Wahyuni, the older sister of two boys, Ahmad Cahyo, 15, and Muhammad Farel, 14, who died after being caught up in the melee.

“They loved football but they never saw Arema live at Kanjuruhan Stadium, this was their first time,” he added at his brothers’ funeral on Sunday, referring to the local team they supported.

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, says in its safety regulations that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be used at matches.

“If there was no tear gas, maybe there would have been no chaos,” Choirul Anam, commissioner of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, known as Komnas Ham, told a briefing at the stadium.

Police and sports officials have been dispatched to Malang to investigate what is one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters. President Joko Widodo has ordered the football association to suspend all League 1 matches until the investigation is complete.

In 1964, 328 people died in a crush when Peru received Argentina at the National Stadium in Lima.

In a 1989 British disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death when an overcrowded, fenced-in arena collapsed at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said the government would form an independent investigation team, including academics and soccer experts, as well as government officials, to investigate what happened.

The team will investigate over the next few weeks with the aim of finding out who was responsible for the tragedy, he said.

Violence and hooliganism have long been hallmarks of Indonesian football, especially in places like Jakarta, the capital, but the scale of Saturday’s disaster in this Javanese city has left the small community desensitized.

“OUR FOOTBALL TRAGEDY

Indonesian daily Koran Tempo published a black front page on Monday, centered on the words “Our Football Tragedy” printed in red along with a list of the dead.

Home team Arema FC had lost the match 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, although officials said no tickets were issued to Persebaya fans for security reasons.

Mahfud said on Sunday that the stadium had been filled beyond capacity. Some 42,000 tickets were issued for a stadium designed to hold 38,000 people, he said.

Arema FC president Gilang Widya Pramana tearfully apologized to the stampede victims on Monday, saying he took full responsibility.

“Lives are more valuable than football,” he told a news conference.

In a speech on Sunday, Pope Francis said he had prayed for those who lost their lives and for those injured in the disaster.

FIFA, which called the incident a “dark day for everyone involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension,” has asked Indonesian football authorities for a report on the incident.

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Written by Kate Lamb/Stanley Widianto; Additional reporting by Zahra Matarani and Ananda Teresia in Jakarta; Edited by Ed Davies, Clarence Fernandez, and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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