PUTRAJAYA - The suspects arrested following the fire at Darul Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre cannot be sentenced to death if they are convicted under Section 302 of the Penal Code.
According to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Section 97 (1) of the Child Act 2001 states that the death penalty cannot be imposed on children under 18 years old.
However, the court may impose imprisonment for as long as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Yang di-Pertua Negeri consented.
"In addition, offenders can also be punished under Section 91 (1).
"Section 94 of the same Act empowers the court to order parents to be fined or pay compensation," she said in a statement today.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, a total of 23 students and two teachers were killed in a fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre at Jalan Keramat Ujung, Kuala Lumpur.
Azalina admitted that she was shocked to find out that suspects arrested were teenagers under the age of 18.
"This incident must be a lesson to all parties, especially parents in the eradication of criminal cases involving children," she said.
At the same time, she also urged all parties to stop speculating on the case and to give space to the authorities to complete the investigation.
"No individuals can overcome the law, the suspects will be judged according to the existing law.
"At present, all suspects are still remanded and investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder and Section 435 of the Penal Code for mischief by fire," she said.