Brenton Tarrant May Avoid Terror Charge
Legal experts in New Zealand have said that the man accused of carrying out a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch may avoid terror charges after fears he could use the trial to showcase his manifesto.
Former senior Crown prosecutor, Ross Burns, has said that if Australian man Brenton Tarrant was put on trial for terrorism it would make the process longer and could see him use the trial “to espouse his ideological reasons”.
Fifty people were killed and dozens more injured in the attack on Friday March 15 when Tarrant allegedly live streamed himself shooting people at two mosques in the city.
Mr Burns has said that prosecutors might instead seek a straight murder trial because in this case they only had to prove whether the accused did it and if his intention was to kill.
Whereas charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act must prove that the act was done for ideological or political reasons and was intended to terrorise the community.
“In my view, the elements are all made out, but to minimise the impact on victims, straight murder is easier to prove,” Mr Burns said.
“And there’s less scope to use a platform to espouse his ideological reasons.”
Yesterday it was reported that Tarrant would represent himself through the prosecution process in New Zealand.
His next court appearance will be on April 5 following a brief appearance on Saturday, where he did not apply for bail.
The 17-minute live streamed video published by Tarrant as well as a hate-filled document that he placed online shortly before the shooting will form key parts of the criminal trial.