The Straits Times
Published on Jan 15, 2013

Singaporean charged with intentional arson for causing fatal fire in Batam


JAKARTA: Prosecutors have charged Singaporean Kerri Kassan, 54, with intentional arson endangering lives after he started a fire in a Batam neighbourhood last August.

If convicted, he could face a maximum of 15 years in jail for the offence, which saw a nine-year-old die, four injured and 60 homes razed.

Kerri had set fire to two pairs of rubber footwear belonging to his Indonesian wife over a domestic tiff. The fire then spread across the crowded residential area of Kampung Seraya in Batam.

His lawyer Mr Bernard Nababan said it was a "pure accident". " Kerri would have used petrol had he had the intention to burn houses," he told The Straits Times on Tuesday after the charges were read out.

The Batam court will hear from witnesses when Kerri's trial resumes on Thursday.

Kerri has also been slapped with a charge of unintentional arson that endangered lives, a crime that carries a lesser jail term, of maximum five years.

Such double indictments are common in Indonesia, and prosecutors will pursue this charge if the primary intentional arson charge is declined by the judges.

For more on this news, pick up a copy of The Straits Times on Wednesday.