Asia

Teen in Malaysia found guilty of murdering 23 in Islamic school fire, escapes noose due to age

KUALA LUMPUR – A 19-year-old teenager has been found guilty of murder at the Malaysian High Court over the death of 21 students and two teachers in a fire at an Islamic school in Kuala Lumpur almost three years ago, The Star online news site reported on Monday (Aug 17).

The deaths of the teenage students at Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah and their two teachers when the building was purposely set on fire shook Malaysia as it was one of the biggest mass killings in the country.

The incident occurred between 4.15am and 6.45am on Sept 14, 2017, in Kampung Datuk Keramat, about 5km from the Petronas Twin Towers.

According to the amended charge, the teenager, together with another unidentified individual, murdered 23 people at the school.

Another male teen was acquitted of the same murder charges in January.

In his decision, Justice Azman Abdullah said the accused, who was 16 years old at the time of the offence, had failed to raise reasonable doubt in his defence.

“The prosecution had proven their case beyond reasonable doubt,” he said on Monday, as quoted by The Star.

Due to the accused’s age, the court ordered for him to be detained in a prison at the pleasure of the Malaysian King in accordance with Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001.

It is up to the King to determine the terms and condition of the teenager’s detention from time to time, the judge said.

Under normal circumstances, convictions under Section 302 of the Penal Code carry a mandatory death sentence.

“I pray for those deceased to be granted heaven,” Justice Azman said before adjourning proceedings.

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