News of a 15-year-old boy alleging that his friends set him on fire after accusing him of having stolen RM100 shocked netizens over the weekend. The incident, which took place around 3 a.m. in Kampung Perasing Jaya on Friday (July 22) left the boy with 40% burns on his neck and back.
Kemaman district police chief Superintendent Hanyan Ramlan told reporters that police believe that the boy had been doused with a liquid, most likely petrol, before being torched by some of his friends over the accusation.
The victim returned home shortly after, to his distraught father, and is now being treated at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan, Pahang. Reports say that he is in stable condition.
According to Supt. Hanyan Ramlan, all of the accused perpetrators, aged 18 to 28, were apprehended at various locations throughout the district between Friday and Saturday.
“Three of them work in factories, while the other three are unemployed. Preliminary investigations revealed that one of the suspects, aged 28, has a prior drug-related record,” he said, as per the Sun.
The six men will be held in custody for five days until this Thursday (July 28), following an implementation from the authorities to conduct investigations under Section 307 of the Penal Code.
Magistrate Tengku Eliana Tuan Kamaruzaman granted the remand order at the Kemaman Magistrate’s Court.
The Sun also reported that a lawyer and a social activist advised the people not to make attempts to take law and order into their own hands as they try to pursue mob justice.
People who carry out such acts, according to lawyer Kokila Vaani Vadiveloo, can be penalised under Section 324 of the Penal Code for causing intentional harm, which provides for a prison term of up to three years, a fine, or caning, or any two of the punishments.
She stated that the general populace can only use their citizen’s right to arrest a suspect under Section 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which states that when a crime takes place, they must immediately hand the suspect over to the police rather than injuring them.
“In pursuit of instant justice, those who take the law into their own hands can be prosecuted for inciting harm to another person.
“Even when members of the public exert their citizen’s right to arrest under the CPC, they must use reasonable force against somebody self-defence. For example, when confronted with an impending danger to one’s body or property, to inhibit or suppress an attack,” she explained.
According to Kokila, direct public participation in punishing a suspect is not justifiable because the process involves the collaborative efforts of police and judicial authorities to undertake a proper investigation and determine guilt.
She also claimed that doing so will undermine the credibility of the judiciary.
Subsequently, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of the Alliance for Safe Community, strongly recommends the public not to take up the role of the officials when atrocities happen, as they lack the authority to punish assailants.