Man charged over deadly NZ hostel blaze tries to fire lawyer
A man charged over deadly fires at New Zealand's Loafers Lodge hostel has been remanded in custody and given name suppression at his first court appearance in Wellington.
The man, 48, has been charged with setting fire to the lodge and to a couch on the third floor. One charge carries a maximum of 14 years in jail and the other seven years.
The man appeared in a black sweatshirt with his hoodie up, made gestures and signs at the media attending and told assigned lawyer Doug Ewen he was fired.
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He also said Ewen was not getting him bail. Bail is opposed by police. Press copies of the charging documents show the man is of no fixed abode.
Wellington District Court judge Jan Kelly remanded him in custody until June 19.
Acting Wellington district commander Inspector Dion Bennett earlier said police were not seeking anyone else in relation to the fire.
The investigation into the fire was ongoing and police had not ruled out further, more serious charges in relation to the deaths at the scene, a police spokesperson said.
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The death toll remains at six. Fewer than 20 people are still counted as missing. Ninety-two people have been accounted for, with one person in a stable condition in Hutt Hospital.
Police began removing the bodies of the victims on Thursday. Two more bodies are expected to be removed on Friday
Bennett said the damage on the third floor of the Newtown hostel was significant. The scene examination was expected to take several days and would likely go into the weekend, he said.
This article originally appeared on Stuff and has been reproduced with permission.
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