IS THIS JUSTICE? IT’S MURDER FOR TAHFIZ SCHOOL ARSONISTS BUT WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL’S OWNER FOR FAILING TO ENSURE SAFETY

KUALA LUMPUR – Two of the suspects tied to the deadly fire which killed 23 people at a tahfiz centre in Datuk Keramat are expected to be charged with murder while the rest will face the music for self administration of drugs.

The teenagers will be brought to the Jalan Duta court tomorrow for prosecution.

City police chief Datuk Amar Singh said police have received instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to charge the teenagers.

“Charges for two accused will be under Section 302 of the Penal Code (for murder). Another charge is under Section 15 of the Dangerous Drugs Act (for self administration of drugs) for six suspects,” he said in a statement.

It is learnt that one of the murder suspects is also expected to be charged with a count under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Earlier today, Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said police have wrapped up their probe into the incident.

Noor Rashid said those “actively involved” in setting fire to the religious school, will likely face prosecution tomorrow.

He added that others who were not directly involved may be charged for other offences such as drug abuse.

On the morning of Sept 14, a fire broke out at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz centre in Keramat. Of the 23 people who died, 21 were students while the rest were wardens.

Investigators later established that the fire, which started at the entrance of the third floor dormitory, came about under suspicious circumstances.

Forensic experts found traces of petrol, as well as two gas cylinder tanks at the entrance of the dorm.

CCTV images from nearby buildings also showed the presence of several teenagers who had crept into the tahfiz centre building hours before the fire began.

A day after the incident, police arrested seven suspects, aged between 12 and 18. It was later established that the teens had torched the building as a form of revenge, after being embroiled in an argument with some of the tahfiz students.

The incident is the second worst fire-related tragedy to involved tahfiz schools in Malaysia. The worst was in 1989, which took place at the Taufiqiah Khairiah Al-Halimah, Padang Lumut in Kedah. A total of the 27 students had perished in that incident.

Since the Keramat incident, the government had formed a task force to formulate streamlined safety practices for tahfiz schools. Some of the proposed measures include amending legislation to enable religious schools to come under the purview of the Federal government to enable better monitoring and aid distribution.

– ANN

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