Deadly Mahdia dorm fire: Hearing for juvenile murder accused will conform with Juvenile Justice Act – DPP
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has taken note of the comments expressed in the “media” over the slew of murder charges it has advised the Police to institute against a girl in relation to the deadly fire at the Mahdia Secondary School Female Dormitory.
“The DPP wishes to inform that all persons are charged with the same charge under the same law. The procedure in court differs for juveniles. The person charged is a juvenile, and the hearing will be done in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act in the Juvenile Court,” a statement issued by the DPP’s office on Wednesday said.
Importantly, the DPP’s Office has assured that the rule of law will be respected and applied, and has expressed that “there is no question about that.”
A 15-year-old girl was arraigned on Monday for the arson which resulted in the deaths of 20 children — 19 girls and a five-year-old boy. The girl, who was initially charged with 19 counts of murder, is likely to be slapped with another murder charge, since another child, Sheran Daniels, 13, succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday.
She has, so far, been charged with the murders of Nicholeen Robinson; Martha D’Andrade; Shorline Bellarmine; Eulanda Carter; Adonijah Jerome; Subrina John; Cleoma Simon; Tracil Thomas; Andrea Roberts; Lisa Roberts; Rita Jeffery; Loreen Evans; Delicia Edwards; Belnisa Evans; Lorita Williams; Mary D’Andrade; Omefa Evans; Natalie Bellarmine; and Arianna Edwards.
The May 21, 2023 inferno killed 19 female students between the ages of 12 and 17, and a five-year-old boy who was the son of the dorm parents. Days after the horrific incident, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) disclosed that the fire was allegedly started by the 15-year-old student, who also lived at the dorm, after her cellular phone was taken away by the dorm’s mother and a teacher.
Initial information received from sources close to the investigation had revealed that the teen in question had reportedly previously been suspended for engaging in activities contrary to the rules of the institution, and had been involved in an argument with the administrators, during which she had allegedly threatened to cause “trouble.”
The Mahdia school’s dormitory had housed students from the communities of Karisparu, El Paso, Micobie, and Chenapau in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
The fire was allegedly set in the bathroom area of the dormitory. According to the surviving female students, they were asleep, and were awakened by screams. Upon checking, they saw fire and smoke in the bathroom area, which quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and smoke inhalation, while several managed to escape.
Several of the injured students were air-dashed to the Georgetown Public Hospital(GPHC) for treatment.
On May 27, another 13-year-old girl was flown to the Northwell Health Burn Care Centre in New York to be administered advanced medical care.
According to the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), the dormitory housed 59 students. At the time of the fire, there were 56 females and a five-year-old boy inside.
The remaining students had gone home for the weekend. The dormitory’s 26 windows were heavily grilled, and the five doors were locked with keys when the fire broke out.
President Dr Irfaan Ali has announced that a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) would be conducted into the deadly blaze. He also announced that the victims’ families would be compensated by the State. (G1)