Malaysian police charge 2 teens over deadly school fire

Minors face 23 counts of murder following worst blaze of its kind in two decades
Malaysian police charge 2 teens over deadly school fire

Malaysian Muslims offer prayers for a victim of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah religious school fire during a burial ceremony at Raudhatul Sakinah cemetery in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 15, 2017. (Photo by Sadiq Asyraf/AFP)

September 28, 2017
Two teenagers in Malaysia were charged with murder on Sept. 28, for setting fire to an Islamic boarding school that killed 23 people.

The blaze in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 14, the deadliest in two decades, sparked public outrage, with calls for greater fire safety regulations at religious schools.

The blaze broke out in a top-floor dormitory of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah religious school while most of the students were sleeping. Many of the windows were barred by metal grilles, which prevented the victims escaping.

The two charged youths were accused of being part of a group of seven local male youths and aged between 12 and 18.

Police said they started the fire after arguing with students from the school.

The names of the charged youths were withheld in accordance with Malaysia’s child protection laws, as both are minors.

"They are being tried jointly and are facing 23 counts of murder, one for each victim of the fire," prosecuting lawyer Othman Abdullah told reporters outside a juvenile court in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia carries the death penalty for murder, but authorities have said it would not apply to the youths because of their age.

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