Intent to kill.
The prosecution in the Darul Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz centre murder trial is seeking to prove that the two teenage accused, both 17, had common intention to kill 23 residents of the centre.
Kuala Lumpur prosecution director Othman Abdullah told the High Court today that the prosecution would also prove that all the victims died of fatal injuries including severe burns and smoke and soot inhalation in the fire categorised as arson.
Othman said the prosecution would submit evidence that the fire, another black episode in the history of tahfiz institutions in the country, after the Pondok Pak Ya tragedy 28 years ago, was caused by both accused.
“That both accused by their actions have committed an offence under Section 300 of the Penal Code, and a common intention under Section 34 of the same Act, to kill the victims,” he said.
He told the court that on the same night before the fire broke out on Sept 14, 2017, the two accused talked about wanting to burn the centre down.
He said both accused were seen leaving Lorong Keramat 18 at 4.15am on a motorcycle on the day of the incident and at 4.30am, had gone to the area near the centre before climbing over the fence, carrying a water bottle filled with petrol.
“At 4.50am, both accused climbed out of the centre’s compound hastily before fleeing the scene on the same motorcycle.
“At the same time, flames were seen on the third floor of the tahfiz centre,” Othman said in his opening statement on the first day of the trial before judge Azman Abdullah.
He said the police also managed to recover several CCTV recordings that confirmed the presence of the accused at a number of locations, including the area near the scene.
Othman, who is being assisted by deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz, also told the court that Fire and Rescue Department investigations found the fire, which started at the front door of the entrance to the dormitory, to have been deliberately set.
He said a cigarette lighter was used to ignite the petrol that was poured over a towel rack, shoe rack, on the wall and door of the dormitory.
“Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in two cylinders intensified the blaze causing it to spread rapidly throughout the dormitory,” he said.
At today’s proceedings, both accused were represented by counsel Haijan Omar while three lawyers, Boestaman Ahmad, Roswadya Roslan and Mohd Tajuddin Abd Razak held a watching brief for the centre and the victims’ families.
The two teenagers are jointly facing 23 counts of murder at the Darul Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz centre, in Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat here, between 4.15am and 6.45am, on Sept 14, 2017.
The charges are framed under Section 302 of the Penal Code read together with Section 34 of the same Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence, upon conviction.
However, under Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001, offenders under 18 years old cannot be sentenced to death, but the court can impose a jail sentence for any length of time at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and Section 94 of the same Act gives the court the power to order the parents to pay a fine or compensation.
In the 5.15am incident on Sept 14, 2017, 21 students and two wardens of the centre were killed after being trapped on the third floor of the school’s dormitory.
The trial continues today.