Christchurch white supremacist gunman, Brenton Tarrant, jailed for life without parole

Christchurch white supremacist gunman, Brenton Tarrant, jailed for life without parole
Australian gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant (not pictured) received the maximum available sentence. (AFP)
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Updated 27 August 2020

Christchurch white supremacist gunman, Brenton Tarrant, jailed for life without parole

Christchurch white supremacist gunman, Brenton Tarrant, jailed for life without parole
  • Tarrant told he will spend the rest of his life behind bars
  • Families and survivors celebrate outside court, but still filled with grief

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: The white supremacist responsible for an anti-Muslim shooting spree that left dozens dead, traumatising New Zealand and capturing the world’s attention was today sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, had pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act in relation to the massacre on March 15 last year that he livestreamed on Facebook.

“The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after the sentencing.

The Muslim community in New Zealand reacts to the sentence, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comments. (AFP video)

The killings took place during Friday prayers at the city’s Linwood Islamic Centre and Al Noor Mosque, not far from the courthouse where this week’s four-day sentencing hearing took place.

Among the arsenal of weapons Tarrant brought with him to execute his meticulously planned attacks was a pump-action rifle he daubed with a Nazi-style SS symbol.

In his livestream, he described what was happening as a “firefight” as if the men, women and children he methodically picked off had somehow been in a position to defend themselves.

The prosecution had called for a whole-of-life sentence to reflect what it called the “calculated sadism and depravity” of the crimes.

Justice Cameron Mander agreed, describing Tarrant himself as “unusually racist” in his views and bereft of any remorse for his actions.

The moment the judge read out Tarrant's sentence. (AFP video)

“If not here, when?” he said of the whole-of-life sanction.

The judge said the penalty was required in order to fully denounce Tarrant’s actions and to fully hold an “entirely self-centred” offender accountable. The penalty also had a deterrent value and would protect the wider community.

Earlier, he asked Tarrant if he wished to say anything before the final sentencing. “No, thank you,” Tarrant replied, looking sallow and diminished in baggy prison overalls.

Today’s sentence is a first for New Zealand, which last executed a convict in 1961, before abolishing the death penalty in the late 1980s.

But the case itself has been a judicial novelty, too. The scale of the crime was without local precedent. So had been this week’s avalanche of victim-impact statements — chosen from among 200 submissions — and the wrenching effect on the wider culture.




Brenton Tarrant will spend the rest of his life behind bars. (AFP)

Justice Mander spoke of the grandparents who would never again see their grandchildren, wives who would never again hold hands with their husbands, the children who still ask when they would be seeing their vanished parents. In one of the cases, he noted with evident distaste, three of the family members of what had been a four-person household had perished at his hand.

Raf Manji, a former city councillor in Christchurch who has spent much of the past 17 months working with survivors and was in the court this week, told Arab News that the whole-of-life sentence was the only welcome outcome in such a horrendous case.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Manji said it was “really important for the families of the terrorized that this sentence has been without parole,” said Manji.

“This man will never be able to leave prison, and he will have to spend the rest of his life in a cell. As a punishment. And that is really important. Sometimes the punishment side of things can be a difficult thing, especially in more liberal societies, but it’s really important.”

Members of  New Zealand's Muslim community spoke outside the court after sentencing was served. (AFP video)

The 90 victim-impact testimonies given to the court during the sentencing had laid bare the terror that was caused by the defendant. Clearly, they also left their trace on the final deliberations.  

This week the defendant looked like “a shell of a man, and recalled Eichmann’s trial [in Jerusalem], you know in that ‘banality of evil’ sense,” when the appearance of the individual usually reminds us only that they are “ordinary people who have done terrible things,” Manji said.  

The unprecedented sentence was also welcomed in religious circles beyond the local Muslim community, including a statement issued immediately by the New Zealand Jewish Council saying no other minimum term would have reflected the gravity of the offence.

“The hearing has highlighted the stark contrast between the victims of this atrocity, who have shown the greatest strength and dignity, and the shooter, utterly lacking those qualities and indeed any semblance of contrition and humanity,” Juliet Moses, the council’s spokeswoman, said.


6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece
Updated 03 March 2021

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits central Greece

ATHENS: A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit central Greece on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, prompting residents in the city of Larissa to rush into the streets according to local media.
The Institute of Geodynamics in Athens said the quake, which could be felt across central and northern Greece, had measured at a magnitude of 6.0.
According to the Athens observatory, the epicentre of the quake was 21 kilometres (13 miles) south of the town of Elassona, near Larissa.


Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
Updated 03 March 2021

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca

Made in India: Ministers, officials prefer locally-developed vaccine over AstraZeneca
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier opted for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine

NEW DELHI: Government ministers and officials were following Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead by opting on Tuesday for an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine approved without late-stage efficacy data, instead of the AstraZeneca one.
India’s health, foreign and law ministers, and state governors, all flocked to Twitter to express support for the much-criticized Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN vaccine, after it was administered to Modi on Monday.
“Made-in-India vaccines are 100% safe,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said after being inoculated with COVAXIN.
Many state officials and doctors have refused to take COVAXIN before its effectiveness could be proved. Bharat Biotech says it has completed the late-stage trial and results will be out this month.
The company said the endorsement by Modi and other ministers would set an example for other Indians and reduce “vaccine hesitancy.” It is seeking to sell COVAXIN to countries including Brazil and the Philippines.
COVAXIN and the AstraZeneca vaccines were approved by India’s regulator in January. The government has distributed to states a total of 50 million doses of the vaccines but only 12 percent of the 12 million people immunized so far have taken COVAXIN, according to government data.


Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police
Updated 03 March 2021

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

Explosion hits Dutch COVID-19 testing center, no injuries — police

AMSTERDAM: Dutch police on Wednesday said a coronavirus testing location north of Amsterdam appeared to have been intentionally targeted after an explosion went off at the location before the site opened.

The blast in the town of Bovenkarspel, 55 km north of the capital, shattered windows but caused no injuries, police from the province of North Holland said in a statement.

They said they had cordoned off the area to investigate.

The explosive “must have been placed” there, police spokesman Menno Hartenberg told Reuters, adding that “something metal” had caused the explosion.

“We don't know yet exactly what exploded, the explosives experts must first investigate,” Hartenberg said.

“What we're saying is that something like that doesn't just happen by accident, it has to be laid,” he spokesman said.


Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
Updated 03 March 2021

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority

Pakistan Senate election kicks off as Imran Khan’s ruling party looks for majority
  • Imran Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his political allies will seek to wrest control of Pakistan’s Senate from opposition parties on Wednesday in indirect elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of the country’s parliament.
Though his party won the 2018 general election, Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate, needed to pass key legislation – including legal reforms sought by global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“They have difficulty in legislating, and many laws are stuck,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, head of the independent research organization PILDAT, said.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which translates into Pakistan Movement for Justice, has 12 seats in the Senate, and the two main opposition parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 25 seats each.
PTI is looking to go up to 25 seats after the elections, and, along with other coalition parties and independents, have a slender majority in the Senate.
The electoral college for the Senate elections, which are held every three years on half of the chamber’s strength, comprises Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies and the lower house of parliament.
With opposition parties controlling the Senate, the government has had to pass interim legislation through Presidential Ordinances, which expire in 120 days.
The government’s legislators and allies in the lower house of parliament will vote on making Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, a senator. The result could show how much confidence there is in the administration.
“It could determine who has a majority in parliament... it will be an embarrassment for the government, and could even lead to seeking a fresh vote of confidence,” Mehboob said.
The lead up to the potentially pivotal election has been marked by the government and opposition charging each other with seeking votes through unfair means.


Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
Updated 03 March 2021

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan

Daesh claims responsibility for attack on media workers in eastern Afghanistan
  • Daesh fighters targeted three female employees of a television station

Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack that killed three female media workers in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday evening.
The militant group, which has a presence in Afghanistan, said its fighters had targeted the three female employees of a television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad, according to SITE Intelligence group.
Three women who worked for Enikas TV aged between 18 and 20 had died and a fourth was critically injured after being shot on their way home from work, Afghan officials had said.