Youths charged with murder after fatal fire at Malaysian school

This file photo shows Malaysian Muslims carrying the coffin of a victim of the Darul Qur’an Ittifaqiyah religious school fire for burial at Raudhatul Sakinah cemetery in Kuala Lumpur on September 16, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 28 September 2017
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Youths charged with murder after fatal fire at Malaysian school

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Malaysian teenagers were charged with murder on Thursday, for setting fire to an Islamic boarding school that killed 23 people, mostly boys.
The fire in Kuala Lumpur on September 14 was the deadliest of its kind in two decades, and the tragedy sparked public outrage, with calls for greater safety and tougher regulation at religious schools.
The blaze had broken out in a top-floor dormitory at the three-story boarding school where most of the students were sleeping in bunk beds, with many of the windows barred by metal grilles.
The two accused were part of a group of seven youths, all male and aged between 12 and 18, who police said had started the fire after feuding with students from the boarding school. They lived in the neighborhood and did not attend the school.
Prosecutors declined to provide the suspects’ names or ages, citing Malaysia’s child protection laws, but said both the accused boys were 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 a mandatory death penalty for murder, but authorities have said it will not apply to the youths as they were underage. They could instead face jail time, whipping, fines or detention at an approved school.
The two, along with four others, are also facing drug use charges. All but one were minors, while another youth was released due to insufficient evidence, Othman said.
Those charged had tested positive for drugs, including marijuana and methamphetamine, according to a charge sheet sighted by Reuters.
The court has set November 28 as the date for the next hearing, Othman said.


Two gored to death at India bull-wrestling festival

Updated 10 min 12 sec ago
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Two gored to death at India bull-wrestling festival

  • The bulls broke through barricades separating fans from the action in the arena on Sunday
  • Jallikattu remains wildly popular despite the danger and controversy around the treatment of the bulls

NEW DELHI: At least two spectators were gored to death at a bull-wrestling festival in India that animal activists say is cruel and want banned, police said on Monday.
The bulls broke through barricades separating fans from the action in the arena on Sunday in Pudukottai, a town in Tamil Nadu where thousands had swarmed to watch the Jallikattu festival.
“Two spectators were hit by the bulls near the arena. One of them died on the spot and another died at the hospital,” P. Sangaraj, a police officer in Pudukottai, said.
Authorities said dozens of participants were also injured Sunday while trying to grab the charging bulls by their horns and rumps in the hope of winning prizes.
More than 100 people have been hurt since the festival, an annual fixture in southern Tamil Nadu state, kicked off Wednesday.
Organizers said more than 1,300 bulls were released on Sunday from pens into the arena — more than doubling the previous daily record.
Jallikattu remains wildly popular despite the danger and controversy around the treatment of the bulls.
Animal activists say the bulls are fed alcohol and chili powder is thrown in their faces to make them aggressive before the contest.
India’s Supreme Court outlawed Jallikattu in 2016 after animal rights groups argued the bulls were grossly abused during the festival.
But organizers and Tamil Nadu’s state government deny the animals are mistreated, describing Jallikattu as a crucial part of its culture and identity.
The ruling triggered widespread protests in the state capital Chennai and other major cities.
Under pressure, the state government issued an executive order over-riding the court’s judgment and Jallikattu went ahead a year later.