Arsonists who set off fires to face murder charge

By Xinhua,

Canberra : Arsonists who set off deadly fires in Australia’s Victoria state that killed 128 people could be charged with murder, federal attorney general Robert McClelland said Monday.

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He told parliament that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was right in calling the arsonists “mass murderers”.

“Anyone who lights fires deliberately, with reckless disregard for the safety of fellow Australians, in our view establishes the requisite criminal intent that would sustain a charge of murder,” McClelland said.

To successfully prosecute a murder charge, the police must prove that someone committed the physical act that killed another and they intended for the person to die.

Rudd said that if the Victorian fires had been deliberately lit, it would amount to “mass murder”. “What do you say about anyone like that – there are no words to describe it other than mass murder.”

Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon said that all bushfire-devastated areas would be treated as crime scenes to determine if arson was involved.

Saturday’s inferno was the worst in the nation’s history, surpassing the Black Friday blaze in 1939 that claimed 71 lives and 1983’s Ash Wednesday that killed 75.