Tahfiz fire victims died before their bodies were burnt: Forensic expert

22 Feb 2019 / 18:20 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The murder trial of two teenage boys charged with causing the death of 23 residents of the Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Centre was told that the victims in the tragic fire incident had died of smoke inhalation, before their bodies were burnt.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) Forensic Medicine Department specialist Dr Siew Sheue Feng said the victims were found to have breathed in the products of the combustion during the fire, causing them to suffocate and die before possibly succumbing to burns.

“Traces of soot were found in the respiratory tract of the victims which showed that they had inhaled smoke,“ he said during examination-in-chief by Kuala Lumpur prosecution director Othman Abdullah at the trial before Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah, today.

To a question from Azman on how long it would take for a victim to die after smoke inhalation, the 59th prosecution witness said ‘within a short time’.

Earlier, Dr Siew said he had performed autopsies on six of the 23 bodies and the six bodies were charred. He was among four forensic experts assigned to perform post-mortem examinations and collect specimens from the fire victims at the centre.

The witness said that inspections on the bodies found no other injuries except for injuries due to the fire.

Two teenage boys, then aged 16, were jointly charged with murdering and causing the death of the 23 residents at the tahfiz centre at Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat, here, between 4.15am and 6.45am on Sept 14, 2017.

The two accused, now aged 18, each face 23 counts of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 34 of the same law, which provides a mandatory death sentence, upon conviction.

However, Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001 states 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.

Section 94 of the same law also empowers the court to order the parents or guardians of the child offender to pay a fine or provide compensation.

At today’s proceedings, both accused were represented by lawyer Haijan Omar.

The trial before Judge Azman continues on April 3. — Bernama

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