58-yr-old man gets charged with 5 murders after hostel fire in New Zealand – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

58-yr-old man gets charged with 5 murders after hostel fire in New Zealand

Image source: RTE

New Zealand police said they have filed five murder charges against a man suspected of setting a fatal fire at a hostel in Wellington last month.

The 48-year-old, who is already in custody for two counts of Arson, faces five counts of murder, the police said, reports RTE.

Five men named by the police died in the fire at the four-storey, 92-room Loafers Lodge hostel in the city center two weeks ago.

Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett said the victims’ families had been informed.

“Our thoughts are with them and we are continuing to ensure they are supported through this process,” he added, reports RTE.

The suspect, whose name cannot be released on a restraining order, appeared in court on May 19 after being accused of setting a sofa fire at the hostel and setting fire to the building himself a few hours later.

He has not submitted a formal plea.

The extent of the fire shocked the country. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins called it an “absolute tragedy” and promised a thorough investigation.

Some survivors climbed through the smoke in the dark of the night to escape the fire while firefighters rescued others from the roof.

Loafers Lodge advertised itself as “convenient and affordable” accommodation with laundry, kitchen facilities and a lock on each floor, reports RTE.

It was used as a free home by a mix of long-term and short-term residents, including those on lower incomes or those on a temporary stay in New Zealand.

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