PUTRAJAYA, Aug 18 — The Court of Appeal has set January 9 next year to hear an appeal by a teenager who was ordered to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after he was convicted of killing 23 people in a fire at the Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in 2017.

The teenager’s lawyer, Haijan Omar, when contacted by Bernama, said the appeal hearing was initially fixed for August 11 this year but was adjourned due to incomplete records of appeal.

He said on the same day, a case management was conducted instead before Court of Appeal deputy registrar Tan Chai Wei, who fixed January 9 for the hearing of the appeal.

“We have just been furnished with complete records of appeal,” Haijan said.

The teenager, who is now 21 years old, is appealing against the August 17, 2020 High Court verdict ordering him to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after finding him guilty of the murder.

At the same time, the prosecution is appealing against the High Court’s decision to acquit and discharge another teenager of the murder without calling for his defence.

High Court judge Datuk Azman Abdullah found that the first teenager, who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, had intentionally committed mischief to cause death.

According to the charge, the teenager, together with another unidentified individual, was accused of murdering and causing the death of the 23 people staying at the tahfiz centre at Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat, Wangsa Maju here, between 4.15am and 6.45am on September 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.

A total of 71 witnesses testified for the prosecution while six defence witnesses including the teenager were called to the stand in the trial which started on May 30, 2018. The teenager, in his defence, denied that he was in the tahfiz’s compound at any time during the incident.

In the tragedy, 21 students and two teachers were killed as they were trapped on the third floor of the religious residential school hostel. — Bernama