Friday, 22 November, 2019

Christchurch killer's trial may be put off until after Ramadan

Brenton Tarrant shown in court after accused Christchurch Mosque shooter's letter from prison surfaces online Tarrant in court surrounded by police while wearing a prison dress. Source AAPMore
Patty Aguilar | 17 August, 2019, 10:29

In the letter posted online, he wrote about his political and social views but said he could not go into great detail about his regrets or feelings "as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do [to use as evidence]".

The man accused of killing 51 in the New Zealand mosque shootings managed to send a letter from prison, which was subsequently posted on the website 4chan, warning an "Alan" from Russian Federation that a "great conflict" is coming.

"I have made myself clear that this can not happen again", Davis said.

There were about 100 other prisoners who were identified as having extremist ideologies, she said.

Davis also noted that all New Zealand prisoners have rights to send and receive mail.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis also acknowledged that the letter should not have been mailed but said the New Zealand prison system has "never had to manage a prisoner like this before".

"I acknowledge that this letter should not have been able to be sent", said Christine Stevenson, the chief executive of the New Zealand Department of Corrections.

The letter describes a trip that Tarrant said he took to Russian Federation a few years ago and warns of a "great conflict" in the future.

"I've asked corrections to look at the content of those other letters, but what we have done is we have put an immediate stop to any mail sent or received...", Davis told Radio New Zealand.

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The Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, one of two mosques where an gunman opened fire on March 15.

Opposition spokesman David Bennett demanded Davis to get to the bottom of how such a letter could be sent by the likes of Tarrant from a maximum security prison.

He is expected to stand trial next year after pleading not guilty in June to 51 counts of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder, and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act, the first time such a charge has been laid inside the country.

The head of Corrections has assured New Zealanders the Christchurch terror suspect is in lock down with no way to share his messages.

After the letter was posted on the internet this week, Stevenson said the accused would be blocked from sending or receiving mail pending a review.

"I do not believe that corrections should have allowed this letter to be sent and have sought assurances from them that there will be an enhanced process from now on", the same source added.

8chan, seen as a more radical offshoot of 4chan, was effectively knocked offline this month after two companies cut off vital technical services in response to claims that the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, posted a racist anti-Latino screed on the site just before the August 3 killings. He said the Christchurch shootings were notorious enough that everybody in New Zealand knew about them, and a change in venue would also seriously inconvenience the dozens of survivors and family members who continue to live in Christchurch.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks to the media on Monday, August 5, 2019, in Wellington, New Zealand.

The trial - which could take six to 12 weeks - has been scheduled to begin on May 4 next year.

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