Georgetown – Guyana police on Sunday said that a secondary school girl who allegedly caused the death of 19 of her schoolmates when she set the dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School, 100 miles west of here, ablaze last Monday, will be charged with murder.
Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Assistant Police Commissioner Wendell Blanhum, said the department arrived at this decision following legal advice.
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“Legal advice was obtained to charge the suspect with 19 counts of murder,” Blanhum said.
Last week, police had alleged that the girl who, government sources say was communicating with a man, started the fire after the dorm mother and a teacher seized her phone Saturday night.
The girl is older than 14 years old and would be charged as an adult, although Guyana’s juvenile law prohibits the naming of accused or convicted children.
DNA results of the unrecognised remains have since been returned, confirming their identities.
Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, has named the victims as Tracil Thomas, Lisa Roberts, Delecia Edwards, Lorita Williams, Natalie Bellarmine, Arriana Edwards, Cleoma Simon, Subrina John, Martha Dandrade, Loreen Evans, Belnisa Evans, Mary Dandrade, Omerfia Edwin, Nickleen Robinson, Sherena Daniels, Eulander Carter, Andrea Roberts and Rita Jeffrey.
The lone male victim was five-year-old Adanye Jerome, son of the dorm mother.
The bodies would be handed over to the families for burial and government has pledged its unlimited assistance to the families and survivors.
President Irfaan Ali has promised a Commission of Inquiry into the fire, and the main opposition party has since demanded that it and other stakeholders be involved in the selection of the members of the Commission and crafting the terms of reference.
But the main opposition parties have called for the inquiry to be fair and impartial. (CMC)