Mahdia tragedy: Lawyer wants COI paused until criminal case against teen girl is complete
Attorney-at-law, Dexter Todd, who is representing the 15-year-old girl who allegedly set fire to the Mahdia Secondary School female dorms killing 20 children, wants the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident to be put on pause.
In a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Todd asked for the proceedings of the imminent CoI to be stayed until all criminal proceedings against his client, a minor, is complete.
The 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, as well as cross examination of witnesses, were set to commence on September 01, 2023.
Todd worries that pretrial 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, sent to the media by email on Saturday, is dated August 31 and asked that an announcement of a stay be made within 24 hours of receipt of the letter.
Should this not be done, 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 23:00 hrs on Sunday, May 21.