A man described as a "ragile" loner has become the first person to be charged with arson over the deadly Victoria, Australia, wildfires and stands accused of killing up to 21 people.
The 39-year-old man was charged Thursday with one count of arson causing death, one of intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire, and one of possessing child pornography.
The unidentified suspect was not in in Morwell Magistrates Court for the charges. His lawyer suggested that his client was not psychologically well enough to appear in court.
"The accused is in a fragile mental state. He should be seen by a doctor," he said.
When police confronted him in a public place, the alleged arsonist "went without a fight." He did not seek bail.
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The man has been transferred to Melbourne for his own safety after threats from angry locals who lost family and property in the Gippsland fires.
Following his arrest, police cautioned the community to remain calm, stressing that the accused was charged over the fire last Saturday, but not the fires in nearby Boolara the previous week.
Survivors of the wildfires have expressed anger — some wanting to seek revenge — at the people who may have deliberately lit the fires, which have now officially claimed 181 lives.
However, the death toll is expected to reach 300. The fire the man is accused of starting on Black Saturday wiped out almost 89,000 acres in the Latrobe Valley region of Gippsland.
Premier John Brumby, while not commenting on the charged man, said arson was heinous.
"I've made very clear my views about arson. It's such a shocking, terrible thing to do," He said. "We've seen some shocking fires and people who light fires deliberately put the community and human life at great risk. I don't intend to comment on the specifics of this matter. But it's an unspeakable and heinous crime."
Hundreds of Victorians have attended a memorial service at Melbourne's St. Paul's Cathedral to remember those killed in the blazes.
The ceremony was called, "Tears, dust and ashes: a service of prayer, hope and remembrance."
Stones representing lives and the towns lost in the weekend's horror events were placed on the altar. It was explained that placing a stone in remembrance was a symbol of both mortality and hope.