A 15-year-old student accused of deliberately starting a fatal school dorm fire in Guyana could spend the rest of her life in prison as she has been charged as an adult. According to The Associated Press, 18 schoolmates and a 5-year-old boy were killed in the fire the accused student allegedly started in her school’s girls’ dormitory on May 21.
Besides being charged with 19 counts of murder on Monday, the accused student was also ordered to be detained, pending subsequent proceedings in court. She allegedly started the fire at Mahdia Secondary School after she took issue with the administrator following the confiscation of her mobile phone, investigators said.
The student, who was not allowed to enter a plea in connection with the charges, will appear before the court again on July 5. The fatal fire outbreak is said to have started in the night. More than 20 students sustained injuries while 20 others were rescued. A student, who was among the critically injured, is receiving specialist treatment at a New York hospital while the majority have since been discharged, The Associated Press reported.
Authorities in the Caribbean nation said the dormitory’s doors were locked from the inside at the time of the fire outbreak, adding that keys to the doors were in the possession of the dorm administrator or house mother.
National Security Advisor Gerald Gouveia said the school official locked all five doors to stop the female students from secretly going to town to socialize with adult males. The students in the dormitory were between the ages of 12 and 15. Gouveia also said the dorm administrator panicked and had difficulties handling the keys as the fire engulfed the dormitory.