Significantly fewer victims to attend Christchurch mosque gunman’s sentencing due to Covid restrictions


Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch was the scene of a massacre in March 2019.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF/Stuff

Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch was the scene of a massacre in March 2019.

Significantly fewer people will be able to attend the sentencing of the Christchurch mosque gunman due to level 2 coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday, Justice Cameron Mander published a minute outlining the impact the restrictions would have on the sentencing, scheduled for Monday, August 24.

Australian national Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, will be sentenced on 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of committing a terrorist act.

Mander said the main courtroom could accommodate a maximum of 35 victims with social distancing measures in place. Normally, the main courtroom public gallery could accommodate 60 people.

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Christchurch is at alert level 2, meaning groups of more than 100 are banned, and will stay there until 11.59pm on August 26.

Sixty-six victims have indicated their intention to read victim impact statements during the sentencing, which was expected to take four days now, instead of three.

Mander said anyone who had requested to read victim impact statements would still be able to do so.

After the statements are read, Tarrant will have the chance to present his own submissions.

He has chosen to represent himself at the sentencing, with counsel on standby.

Seven other courtrooms were reserved for victims and their families, and face masks and gloves would be available for all of those in attendance.

RNZ

Victims and family of those injured and killed in the mosque terror attacks say they are determined to be in court for the killer’s sentencing. (First published July 3, 2020)

Victims and their families who are overseas or unable to attend the court hearing in person due to Covid-19 restrictions will be able to follow proceedings through a livestream.

Proceedings will be simultaneously translated into eight languages and translators are available for victims wanting to read impact statements in their own language.

Travel arrangements to Christchurch were being made for 47 victims and families who travelled from overseas and completed their 14-day quarantine.

Live reporting of the proceedings has been banned, with reporting embargoed until the noon and end-of-day adjournments.

Eleven local news organisations and another 18 from overseas have already signalled their intent to report on it.

Tarrant entered shock guilty pleas to all charges in March just as the country went into alert level 4 lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The legal proceedings took another unexpected turn last month when he decided to get rid of his legal team and represent himself at the sentencing.

THE KEY NUMBERS

– 35 people allowed in the main courtroom under alert level 2.

– 66 victims have indicated their intention to read victim impact statements.

– 7 courtrooms are reserved for victims not in the main courtroom.

– 47 have entered New Zealand from overseas through a special exemption process for the sentencing.

– 29 local and international media organisations have signalled their intent to report on the sentencing.