It is learnt the dropouts completed only the early stage of their secondary school education, and a suspect was spotted at the scene of the crime to witness the aftermath of the fire.
The seven suspects who allegedly started the fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah attended school at one time, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
However, six of them were expelled for disciplinary reasons.
“The suspects did not attend school for a large number of days. Based on this, disciplinary action was taken by the school which is expelling its student.
“Teachers had taken measures to persuade the suspects to attend school. However, after coming to school for a few days, they started missing school again.
“For example, the 16-year-old suspect only attended school when he was in Form One in 2012. Most of them only attended school in the early stage of their secondary form. The last one to drop out of school was in 2016,” Mahdzir said.
They were considered as dropouts because they did not attend school for an extended period of time. The total number of years of schooling among them was one to five years.
Three of them formerly attended SMK Sri Ampang, two were from SMK Padang Tembak and the remaining two were from SK Dato’ Keramat 1 and SK Dato’ Keramat 2, respectively.
However, the 18-year-old suspect managed to complete his secondary education and furthered his studies at Giat Mara, but he reportedly left the learning skills centre.
Six of the youths were tested positive for ganja and reportedly were high on drugs when committing the arson.
Meanwhile, a tahfiz student claimed that a 15-year-old suspect had returned to the scene of the crime several hours later to witness the aftermath of their action.
The suspect was said to have casually chatted with one of the tahfiz students, telling the student “he did not know” what had taken place there.
The tahfiz student claimed that he had bumped into the teenager at the scene and did not suspect anything amiss during their brief conversation as the latter acted just like any of the other curious onlookers.
“I knew one of the boys as he was my friend. I first met him at the Dato’ Keramat lake behind our school, where he often hangs out with the others.
“That morning, I saw him at the scene about 8am. He had approached me and asked ‘macam mana boleh jadi macam ni’? (How could this happen)
“At that time, I did not suspect anything. He then left the place shortly after we spoke. I was stunned upon learning later that he was among those arrested by police for causing the fire,” the student told The New Straits Times.
The student had returned to his family’s home the evening before the incident and rushed to the scene with his father on hearing about the fire.
Sept 15, Aftermath of Religious School Fire