KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has ordered a teenager to enter his defence while his friend was acquitted over the deaths of 23 residents of Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz which burned down in a fire three years ago.
The first accused, who had been ordered to enter his defence, was visibly upset as he sat in the dock crying after the proceedings ended.
His friend, who was acquitted, sat quietly with his father outside of the dock.
Justice Azman Abdullah earlier ruled on Tuesday (Jan 28) that the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against the first accused but failed to prove the same against the second accused.
In September 2017, the teenagers - whose name were withheld as they were merely 16 at the time of the offence - were jointly charged with murdering and causing the death of the occupants of the tahfiz's hostel located in Kampung Datuk Keramat here between 4.15am and 6.45am on Sept 14,2017.
The charge, under Section 302 of the Penal Code, provides for a mandatory death penalty 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.
The defence trial is set for a two-day hearing beginning March 2.
A total of 71 witnesses took the stand during the prosecution trial.
Deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim appeared for the prosecution. Lawyers Haijan Omar and Ravin Jay represented the accused persons.