Mahdia Inquiry gets underway, Secretary says Commission empowered to conduct its own affairs

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The work of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly fire at the female dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School has started and secretary of the Commission, attorney-at-law Javed Shadick says the body is empowered to conduct its own affairs.

He explained that the Commission of Inquiry Act empowers the Commission to “conduct their affairs and make their own rules and regulations” though these must be in keeping with the terms of reference outlined for the body.

As per those terms of reference, the Commission must probe the causes and circumstances surrounding the deadly fire. The Commission is also required to make observations about the situation, and recommendations on how to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy.

Secretary of the Commission, attorney-at-law Javed Shadick

Shadick said the work of the CoI has gotten underway and so far, the people engaged have cooperated.

Shadick’s comments come days after attorney Dexter Todd requested the CoI’s proceedings be halted since the court case involving his client, the accused, is still ongoing.

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.

Major General (Ret’d), Joe Singh is the Chairman of the CoI. He is joined by Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Derrick John and attorney, Dr. Kim Kyte- Thomas. They looking into the tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 children- 19 girls and one five-year-old boy- and injured several others.

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