Witness: Motorcyclists seen in vicinity of tahfiz centre before fire broke out

In the September 2017 incident, 21 students and two wardens of the centre were killed after being trapped on the third floor of the school’s dormitory. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
In the September 2017 incident, 21 students and two wardens of the centre were killed after being trapped on the third floor of the school’s dormitory. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — A witness told the High Court hearing the case of two teenagers charged with the murder of 23 occupants of Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah two years ago that there was a group of motorcyclists in the vicinity of the centre before the fire broke out.

Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters, Serious Crimes Division (D9) assistant superintendent of police ASP Tay Chew Thwa @ Rico Tay said the images of the group were captured on the closed-circuit television (CCTV) of the Malaysian Consumers Association (PPIM) building located next door.

“I met Encik Zharif Johor, Datuk Keramat PPIM branch manager, to examine the CCTV recordings on the date of September 14, 2017 between 3am and 7am.

“Several images showed the presence of a motorcycle group in the vicinity and an image of someone crawling into the PPIM building before the fire broke out,” he said during examination-in-chief by Kuala Lumpur Prosecution director Othman Abdullah here today.

The 61st prosecution witness said he also reviewed footage from CCTV at three other locations namely Datuk Keramat Petron petrol station, Datuk Keramat KL Snooker and a house at Jalan Datuk Keramat.

The two teenagers are jointly facing 23 counts of committing murder at the Tahfiz centre, in Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat here, between 4.15am and 6.45am, on September 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, 21 students and two wardens of the centre were killed after being trapped on the third floor of the school’s dormitory.

The trial before Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah continues on April 28. — Bernama

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