Indonesian police launch probe into tear gas firing at football match

Indonesian police said they are investigating more than a dozen officers responsible for firing tear gas that sparked a scramble that killed at least 125 people at a soccer game.

Distraught family members struggled to comprehend the sudden loss of loved ones at the game in the East Java city of Malang, which was watched only by fans from hometown Arema FC. The organizer had banned the visit of supporters of the Persebaya Surabaya team because of Indonesia’s history of violent soccer rivalries.

But most of the deaths occurred as riot police trying to stop the violence fired tear gas, including into the stands, prompting a disastrous rush of fans who ran in panic to the exits. Most of the people who died were trampled on or suffocated.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said in a news conference that 18 officers responsible for the tear gas firing, from middle to senior ranks, were under investigation along with “internal matters related to security management.”

He said police were still interviewing witnesses and analyzing footage from 32 surveillance cameras inside and outside the stadium and nine cell phones of the victims as part of the investigation, also to identify suspected vandals. Two police officers were among the dead.

Arema FC President Gilang Widya Pramana said the club is ready to accept any sanctions from the Indonesian Football Federation and the government, adding: “Hopefully it will be a very valuable lesson.”

Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud said he would conduct a separate inquiry to look into legal violations in the disaster. The team will also determine victim compensation and complete the task in three weeks.

Human rights organization Amnesty International called on Indonesia to investigate the use of tear gas and ensure those responsible are brought to justice. While FIFA has no control over domestic matches, it has discouraged the use of tear gas in football stadiums. Indonesian police launch probe into tear gas firing at football match

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