Christchurch shooting attack survivors offered New Zealand residency

A police officer stands guard outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Reuters)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Christchurch shooting attack survivors offered New Zealand residency

  • The government had said it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will grant permanent residency to all survivors of the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques in which 50 Muslim worshippers were killed, it said on Tuesday.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder for New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting in which 50 other people at Friday prayers were wounded.

The government had said it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced. Tuesday’s news was only released as a link on the immigration website, which some say was done to avoid any backlash by opponents of immigration.

Immigration New Zealand said a new visa category called the Christchurch Response (2019) visa had been created. People who were present at the mosques when they were attacked on March 15 can apply, as can immediate family members.

Applicants must have been living in New Zealand on the day of the attack, so the visa will not be available to tourists or short-term visitors. Applications can be made from Wednesday.

A Sri Lankan minister said on Tuesday that the Easter bombings at churches and hotels that killed 321 people appeared to be retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks.


Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

Updated 21 May 2019
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Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

THE HAGUE: Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a Syrian asylum seeker suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of the Al-Nusra Front militant group, prosecutors said.
The 47-year-old man, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Khuder, was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said.
“The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander or a terrorist Jabhat Al-Nusra battalion,” the prosecutor said in a statement, using another name for the Al-Nusra front.
It said he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).
The arrested Syrian has lived in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, the statement said.
Police searched the suspect’s house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone, it said, adding that he was due to appear in court on Friday.
He was arrested based on information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.
German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.
The Al-Nusra Front was allied to Al-Qaeda but renounced ties to the group. Under a new name, it now dominates the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which holds administrative control of the Syrian city of Idlib.
The arrest of the Syrian comes as the Netherlands grapples with the problem of what to do with home-grown radicals who went to fight in Syria.
At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to join militant groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.
Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.
The issue was highlighted in March when the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join Daesh said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.