BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ A drifter accused of setting a fire at a hostel that killed 15 young travelers confessed to the crime, police said Monday.

Police told the Brisbane Supreme Court that Robert Paul Long, 38, confessed shortly after the June 23, 2000, fire at the Backpackers Hostel.

Long has pleaded innocent to the murder charge, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The prosecution plans to give its closing argument on Tuesday.

The fire in Childers, a farming community 190 miles north of Brisbane, claimed the lives of seven backpackers from Britain, two from the Netherlands, three from Australia and one each from Ireland, South Korea and Japan.