RIM Indonesian boss to be charged over promotion stampede

Research In Motion’s country director is under investigation by police after a BlackBerry promotion led to a stampede.

More than 40 people were injured and dozens more knocked unconscious at Jakarta’s Pacific Place mall, after being caught up in the crush on November 25.

The company was offering 1,000 buyers the chance to snap up a BlackBerry Bold 9790 for around $260, half the usual price. However, 5,000 people turned up in hope of bagging one of the devices, with many camping out overnight.

The BlackBerry is enormously popular in Indonesia – the country’s RIM’s second biggest market for the device, after the US. According to IDC, the company’s got a 42 percent market share in the country, with shipments expected to hit 9.7 million units by 2015.

According to local reports, police are now considering charging Andrew Cobham, RIM’s local head, and British security consultant Terry Burkey with negligence resulting in injury. The event organizer and the mall’s head of security, named only as Erwin and Markus respectively, are also under investigation.

Police spokesman Baharuddin Djafar told the Jakarta Globe that Cobham should have anticipated people turning up in such numbers, and criticized the company for changing the rules during the event.

Initially, people were told they needed to be issued with a red bracelet to buy a phone – leading to outrage when that plan was abandoned and customers were seen buying the phone without one.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail. None of the four is under arrest, as the sentence is less than five years, but they’re required to report to police.

RIM staff seem to be having a hard time with the police lately. Last week, two senior staffers were charged in Canada after allegedly getting drunk on a flight to China.