The youths detained in connection with a fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah residential religious school in Datuk Keramat, which claimed the lives of 21 students and two teachers, cannot be punished with the death penalty. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said Section 97 (1) of the Child Act 2001 stated that the death penalty cannot be imposed on children under the age of 18. However, the court may imprison them for as long as consented by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Yang Dipertua Negeri, she added.
In addition, Section 94 of the same Act empowers the court to order the parents of the suspects to pay a fine or compensation, she said in a statement today. The police had detained seven youths, aged between 11 and 18, in connection with the fire which broke out at 5.15am on Sept 14. Azalina said all the suspects were still being remanded and investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder and Section 435 of the same code for mischief by fire. She hoped that the incident would serve as a lesson to all parties, especially parents, in the fight against crimes involving children. She also urged all parties to stop speculating and give space to authorities to complete the investigations. “I believe this case will be brought to justice,” she said.