The families of some of the 135 people who died in the Kanjuruhan stadium disaster in Indonesia say they are still seeking justice after an appeals court overturned a verdict handing down two police officers charged with the tragedy were released and imprisoned instead.

Officers Wahyu Setyo Pranoto, chief of operations of the Malang government police, and Bambang Sidik Achmadi, head of the prevention unit of the Malang government police, were acquitted of negligence resulting in injury or death by the Surabaya District Court in March.

In a statement Thursday, Indonesia’s Supreme Court said it had overturned the acquittals and instead sentenced the men to two and a half and two years in prison respectively.

“I am extremely dissatisfied with the verdict. I wanted them to face the death penalty,” Rini Hanifa, whose son, 20-year-old Agus Rian Syah Pratama Putra, died in Kanjuruhan last October, told Al Jazeera.

“The penalties should have been proportionate to what they did to my son. This is justice in Indonesia for those in power and in power. In the end, their positions won,” she said of the police officers.

There were 135 deaths after police fired tear gas at the pitch and in the stands at the end of a match between rivals Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya in Malang on October 1 last year in response to a perceived invasion of the pitch by fans, who were disappointed by Arema FC’s games performance.

The people of Malang blame the police for the disaster [Al Jazeera]

The tear gas prompted fans to rush to the exits at gates 13 and 14 of the stadium, where many were crushed. Some of the families also suspected that their loved ones were asphyxiated by the gas while they were still in the stands, a version disputed by the authorities. Hundreds of people were injured.

Announcing the court decision in March, Surabaya District Court Judge Abu Achmad Sidqi Amsya said Pranoto and Achmadi had not been judicially and convincingly proven for issuing the tear gas firing order, although he told another official, Hasdarmawan, the commander von, convicted of the Third Mobile Brigade Company of East Java Police, sentenced to one and a half years in prison for his role in the incident.

At the sentencing hearing, Amsya claimed that the police did not shoot tear gas directly at the fans in the stands, but only fired it onto the pitch, after which it was carried by the wind and “never reached the South Stand”. Something witnesses said and showed video footage of the incident was wrong.

A government-backed investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) found that an estimated 45 rounds of tear gas were fired at Kanjuruhan Stadium.

“There must be legal responsibility,” Komnas HAM chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik said at the time.

“Not consistent with what the police have done”

The Supreme Court said it disagreed with the acquittal of Pranoto and Achmadi, concluding that “[the defendants] been found judicially and persuasively guilty of the crime of negligence in which persons died, persons were seriously injured and persons were injured in such a way that they were temporarily unable to work.

At the time of the Surabaya trial, which had been moved from Malang due to the sensitive nature of the case, prosecutors had asked for a three-year prison term for each police officer.

However, the victims’ families reacted with outrage to the ruling by the Supreme Court, Indonesia’s highest court.

Many of the 135 people who died in the disaster tried to flee through Gate 13 from the tear gas-filled stadium [Al Jazeera]

Devi Athok Yulfitri, whose two daughters, 13-year-old Naila Debi Anggraini and 16-year-old Natasya Debi Ramadhani, died after watching the game, told Al Jazeera that justice was still being done despite the Supreme Court overturning the acquittals was not satisfied.

“The penalties are not consistent with what the police have done,” he said. “But at least the judges of the Supreme Court had a certain conscience, unlike the judges of the district court in Surabaya.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, questions were raised as to why the police brought tear gas onto the pitch and then used it against fans while FIFA, the governing body that regulates sport around the world, bans its use in football stadiums.

In addition to the three police officers now convicted, two civilians, security guard Suko Sutrisno and match organizing committee chairman Abdul Haris, were previously sentenced to a year and a half in prison for negligence, which included failing to conduct a proper risk assessment of the stadium.

With the criminal prosecution now complete, some families are taking civil action to seek monetary compensation. There is also the possibility of a judicial review, but only on the grounds that there was a procedural error in the judgment.

Imam Hidayat, a lawyer representing some of the victims, told Al Jazeera that the problem with length of sentences stems from police officers being accused of negligence rather than murder.

“From the beginning, we found it difficult to respect the Surabaya court process, as the officers were not charged with premeditated murder,” he said.

The Indonesian government has announced that Kanjuruhan Stadium will be demolished [Al Jazeera]

“As a result, we don’t really feel that justice is being served, whatever the penalties. We believe there is sufficient evidence under the case law to charge her with murder.”

Hanifa agreed.

“The families of the victims do not accept the nonsensical judgment of the judges,” she said.

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