Two imams accused of criminal negligence after a fire killed 13 students at an Islamic school in Rangoon one year ago were each sentenced to eight years in prison by Botahtaung Township Court on Thursday.
Zayar Phyo and Khin Maung Oo were found guilty on charges of negligent homicide after it was found that an electrical fault caused a fire that ripped through the madrassa at a mosque on Rangoon’s 48th Street in the early hours of 2 April, 2013, leading to the death of 13 students.
Defence lawyer Aung Myint said he planned to file an appeal as his clients did not start the fire intentionally.
“Both of my clients were given two years’ sentences under the penal code Article 285 [negligence with respect to fire] and an additional six years under Article 304(a) [negligent homicide] – they have already spent over a year in custody,” he said.
“I don’t want to comment on the decision made by the court. The judge acted within his mandate – we are set to file an appeal,” he added.
In the immediate wake of the tragedy, the Rangoon Division government formed a commission to investigate the blaze. The inquiry concluded that the catalyst for the fire was an overheated power transformer.