IDNAround – East Java Police Chief Insp. General Nico Afinta was removed and assigned to administrative duty based on an internal memo issued on Monday, nine days after the deadly crush that killed at least 131 people after police fired tear gas munitions at football spectators in the town of Malang.
The move came after the Malang police chief was also demoted in the immediate aftermath of the country’s worst football tragedy.
Nico was replaced by Insp. General Teddy Minahasa Putra, who previously led the provincial police in West Sumatra, according to the memo signed by National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo.
The memo, seen by the Jakarta Globe, doesn’t make any mention of the tragedy at Kanjuruhan Stadium, but it came after three officers were named suspects for criminal negligence in relation to the deadly crush.
Nico is assigned to a new role as the expert staff on social and cultural affairs to the national police chief.
Earlier in the day, members of the Malang metro police bowed down during a morning ceremony as a gesture of apology to the families of the victims.
But in the national capital, the police headquarters denies that the firing of tear gas was the leading cause of the massive death toll.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said that not a single victim had died from tear gas munitions at the stadium.
People died in the crush and in the stampede during the chaos that followed as many of the exit gates were locked, Dedi said.
“I’m not the expert here but I quote opinions from experts that even the strongest tear gas is categorized as non-lethal [munitions],” Dedi said.
“Tear gas may cause irritations on the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. It’s painful but the recovery comes in a short time without any serious damage,” he argued.
However, the national police chief admitted on Thursday that chaos erupted soon after officers fired at least 11 tear gas munitions at seating sections and on the pitch.
“The firing caused panic and [eye] pain among spectators primarily at the seating sections and prompted a struggle to leave the stadium,” Listyo said.
Related News: Jokowi: We All Pay the Costs of War