8 Nov 2022

Christchurch mosque terrorist appealing conviction, sentence

1:00 pm on 8 November 2022
On March 15 2019, 51 people died and 49 were injured in the shootings at Christchurch's Al Noor and Linwood Mosques when a gunman opened fire on worshippers.

Photo: AFP / NurPhoto

The Christchurch mosque terrorist is appealing his conviction and sentence.

A Court of Appeal spokesperson said the appeal was filed on 3 November.

No date has been set for when the appeal will be heard.

Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 2020 after he pleaded guilty to the murder of 51 people in 2019.

He has been held in solitary confinement within Auckland's maximum security prison.

The terrorist stormed two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 armed with military-style semi-automatics and shot at dozens of worshippers.

In the wake of the attacks, the government announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, and brought in a buyback scheme.

Following the findings of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand's security agencies apologised to the victims, families and broader Muslim community for failings that created an environment in which the attacks could be carried out.

'They have an agenda'

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand chairperson Abdur Razzaq said the appeal bid did not come as a surprise.

"This is part of a template used by the hatemongers, these right-wing terrorists, to actually not just gain notoriety for themselves but actually, re-traumatise not only their victims but also the nation as a whole.

"You know, they have an agenda, and the agenda is to make hate normal."

Razzaq said it was also no coincidence the appeal has been lodged now, after the first phase of the Coroner's inquest into the mosque attack has begun.

He has spoken to several of the victims' families today.

"The healing process cannot start when this kind of episode re-emerges.

"And this is what is so pathetically shameful about this person's approach.

"There was talk about him having remorse. There's absolutely no remorse there."

Razzaq said the terrorist's actions were intended to cause havoc to social cohesion and it is important to educate people so there was no place for hatemongering in society.

A law expert said that without seeing court documents, it was hard to speculate on the terrorist's grounds for appeal.

Massey University adjunct law professor Chris Gallavin said a defendant usually had to prove their guilty pleas were not made voluntarily, or they were not of sound mind in order to be granted leave to appeal a conviction.

"It's not a straightforward exercise for him to file an appeal and for that to be automatically heard.

"There first has to be an application for it to be heard at all, because it's so out of time, and that's not given lightly by the court, so it might actually fall at the first hurdle."

Ardern: 'Give him nothing'

Asked about the appeal this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern referred back to her previous commitment not to publicly name the terrorist.

"That's because his is a story that should not be told, his is a name that should not be repeated, and I'm going to apply that same rule in commenting on his attempts to revictimise people. We should give him nothing."

Minister of Justice Kiri Allan similarly said she was focused on those affected by his actions.

"I'm thinking about the victims of the crime of a terrorist - somebody that pleaded guilty to terrorism - and I don't have too much more to add, to be quite frank.

"There's absolutely no role the government can play, the matter is before the courts."

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the coroner was considering the impact of the appeal on the coronial inquiry.

The chief coroner paused the masjidain attack coronial investigation until the criminal proceedings were complete and the Royal Commission of Inquiry had released its final report.

The chief coroner resumed the investigation in December 2020 and formally opened an inquiry in October 2021.

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