Tahfiz fire : Youth appeals to Federal Court against murder conviction

PUTRAJAYA — A 22-year-old man has filed an appeal at the Federal Court against his conviction and an order that he be placed in detention at the pleasure of the Yang-di-Pertuan Agong for the murder of 23 people in a fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre in 2017.

His lawyer, Haijan Omar, when contacted by Bernama, said the notice of appeal was filed last Sept 21.

On Sept 11 this year, the Court of Appeal’s three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Abu Bakar Jais, Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Datuk See Mun Chun dismissed the youth’s appeal and upheld his conviction and prison sentence.

Justice Che Mohd Ruzima, who delivered the court’s decision, said the court agreed with the findings of the High Court judge in ruling that the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution was strong and pointed to one direction, namely that the youth (PKK1), along with another unidentified person, climbed behind the school’s fence to start a fire in the school which killed 23 people

The same panel also dismissed the prosecution’s appeal against the High Court’s decision in acquitting and discharging another man (PKK2), also aged 22, of the murder without calling for his defence.

However, it is learnt that no notice of appeal has been filed by the prosecution against the acquittal of PKK2 for the offence. The last date to file the notice of appeal was last Monday (Sept 25).

On Aug 17, 2020, the High Court found PKK1 guilty of the murder offence and ordered him to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang-di-Pertuan Agong. On the same day, the High Court acquitted PKK2 on the murder charge.

According to the charge, the youth, who was then 16 years old, together with another person still at large, was accused of murdering and causing the death of 23 people in the tahfiz centre at Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat, Wangsa Maju here, between 4.15 am and 6.45 am on Sept 14, 2017.

He was charged with 23 counts of murder, each framed under Section 302 of the Penal Code and read together with Section 34 of the same law, which provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

However, Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001 stipulates that a death sentence shall not be pronounced or recorded against a person convicted of an offence if the child is under the age of 18, and in lieu of the death sentence, as provided under Section 97 (2) of the same law, the court shall order the person to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. — BERNAMA