(CMC) – The attorney for a teen girl accused of setting fire to a secondary school dormitory in Mahdia, in which 20 students lost their lives, is calling for the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the incident to be paused.
In a letter to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), attorney Dexter Todd asked for the proceedings of the imminent COI to be stayed until all criminal proceedings against his 15-year-old client are complete.
The young girl is charged with 20 counts of murder and has been on remand since May 2023 with full disclosure in the matter completed on July 20.
Tendering of statements, and cross examination of witnesses, were set to begin on Friday, September 1, but Todd is worrying that pre-trial publicity from the COI can serve as a danger to the criminal proceedings against his client.
“After this Commission of Inquiry is completed, it is reasonable to conclude that our client will not have an untainted or impartial jury since a lot of the evidence likely to be exposed by the COI will also be ventilated at the preliminary inquiry/trial,” the letter to the DPP noted.
The letter, which was dated August 31 but made available to the media on September 2, asked that an announcement of a stay be made within 24 hours of receipt of the letter, failing which Todd said, he would institute proceedings against the State to protect the teen girl’s interests and rights.
“We trust that in the interest of fairness that the commission will allow good sense to prevail and accede to our request,” the letter concluded.
Todd previously asked the DPP to withdraw the 20 murder charges, arguing that there was no “potential” evidence to lead to a conviction.
A total of 19 school girls and one boy– died in the devastating fire which started after 11:00pm on Sunday, May 21.