31 May 2019

Anders Breivik jailers advise Corrections over accused Christchurch gunman

2:24 pm on 31 May 2019

The government has hosted officials who manage Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik to advise as to how best to manage the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Inside Paremoremo Prison

Paremoremo Prison Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, is being held on remand in Auckland's Paremoremo Prison after being charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

The unique challenges government officials face in managing an accused mass murderer came to a head when dozens of local and international reporters converged at the Christchurch District Court on 16 March, the day after the mass shooting.

Now two senior representatives from Norwegian Correctional Services, involved in the management of far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, have visited New Zealand to offer their insight into how to best manage a high-profile prisoner.

Information released under the Official Information Act shows the two officials met with Corrections staff who manage Brenton Tarrant in May.

Breivik was convicted of two 'lone wolf' domestic terrorist attacks that killed 77 people and injured hundreds more in Norway in July 2011.

In 2016 he sued the government over his solitary confinement, which saw him kept alone in his cell for 22 to 23 hours a day, denied contact with other inmates and only communicating with prison staff through a thick glass barrier.

The court upheld his claim that some of his treatment amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", ruling the right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment represented "a fundamental value in a democratic society" and also applied to "terrorists and killers".

In April there were reports the accused Christchurch gunman had laid a formal complaint about his treatment in prison but Corrections has so far refused to confirm this.

A Corrections spokesperson said the 28-year-old was being managed in accordance with the Corrections Act and New Zealand's international obligations for the treatment of prisoners.

"At this time he has no access to television, radio or newspapers and no approved visitors."

In an email to Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis, the Norwegian officials were said to have "experience in working through the many complex issues involved in managing a high-profile offender involved in significant mass casualty offending.

"Their knowledge and insights are likely to prove highly valuable in helping us to address some of the challenges we face in managing a specific individual," the email read.

Further information showed both Norwegian officials had "significant involvement in the management and oversight of of Anders Breivik".

"The knowledge and insights of our visitors, and learnings over the last eight years, will be invaluable in supporting Corrections' thinking in managing the challenges ahead."

The accused gunman will next appear in the High Court at Christchurch on 14 June.