Christchurch massacre suspect to face new terrorism charge

51 worshippers were killed in the attack. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2019

Christchurch massacre suspect to face new terrorism charge

  • The police announced its plans to bring on terrorism charges and an additional murder charge last month

WELLINGTON: Suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant is expected to enter pleas, and will face a new terrorism charge, when he appears in court on Friday over the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch.

In an attack on March 15 that was broadcast live on Facebook, a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch, killing 51 worshippers and wounding dozens of people.

Tarrant already faces 50 counts of murder for the attack and when he appears in the Christchurch High Court on Friday will be charged under a terrorist act, the first time such a charge has been brought in New Zealand.

The police announced its plans to bring on terrorism charges and an additional murder charge last month. A minute issued to the media by Christchurch High Court Judge Cameron Mander last week said Tarrant is expected to enter a plea to the charges.

Tarrant was not required to submit a plea in his last court appearance on April 5, as Judge Mander ordered he undergo mental assessment first to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.

The court has also lifted an order that required Tarrant’s face to be suppressed, which forced media to only publish pixellated images that obscured his face.

“The Crown has advised there is no longer a need for the images of the defendant’s face to be suppressed and the order now lapses,” the judge said in the minute released last week.

Tarrant, who is an Australian national, was remanded in custody after the shooting and moved to New Zealand’s only maximum-security prison in Auckland. He would appear at the Christchurch High Court through a video link.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled New Zealand’s worst peace time mass shooting an act of terrorism and quickly introduced tough new firearm laws which banned semi-automatic weapons.

Muslims worldwide have praised New Zealand’s response to the massacre, with many singling out Ardern’s gesture of wearing a head scarf to meet victims’ families and urging the country to unite with the call: “We are one.”

But others have criticized New Zealand for failing to record hate crimes and ignoring threats from white supremacist groups. A Royal Commission is looking into whether the shooting could have been prevented. 

WHO: Tanzania not sharing information on Ebola

Updated 58 min 52 sec ago

WHO: Tanzania not sharing information on Ebola

  • WHO issues rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak already declared a global health emergency

DAR ES SALAAM: Tanzania is refusing to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, a rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak already declared a global health emergency.
Transparency and speed are key to combating the deadly hemorrhagic fever because the disease can spread rapidly. Contacts of any potentially infected person must be quarantined and the public warned to step up precautions like handwashing.
WHO said in a statement released late on Saturday that it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and unofficially told the next day that the person tested positive for Ebola. The woman had died on Sept. 8.
“Identified contacts of the deceased were unofficially reported to be quarantined in various sites in the country,” the statement said.
WHO said it was unofficially told that Tanzania had two other possible Ebola cases. One had tested negative and there was no information on the other one.
Officially, the Tanzanian government said last weekend it had no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola. The government did not address the death of the woman directly and did not provide any further information.
Despite several requests “clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed ... have not been communicated to WHO,” the UN health agency said.
“The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge.”
Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spill-overs of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo where a year-long outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people.
Last week the US health secretary, Alex Azar criticized Tanzania for its failure to share information on the possible outbreak. The next day he dispatched a senior US health official to Tanzania.
Uganda, which neighbors Congo, has already recorded several cases after sick patients crossed the border. A quick government response there prevented the disease spreading.
The 34-year-old woman who died in Dar es Salaam had traveled to Uganda, according to a leaked internal WHO document circulated earlier this month. She showed signs of Ebola including headache, fever, rash, bloody diarrhea on Aug. 10 and eventually died on Sept. 8.
Tanzania is heavily reliant on tourism and an outbreak of Ebola would likely lead to a dip in visitor numbers.
The WHO statement is not the first time international organizations have queried information from the government of President John Magufuli, nicknamed The Bulldozer for his pugnacious ruling style. Earlier this year both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund contradicted the government’s economic growth figure for 2018.