Dozens of Islamists arrive in New Zealand for gunman’s sentencing

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More than 50 people, including those wanting to support victims, enter quarantine ahead of 24 August court date.

Christchurch MP and cabinet minister Megan Woods said 53 people – including some from Australia – were in managed isolation facilities, quarantining for a fortnight, so they could either attend or support family.

Brenton Tarrant will be sentenced for the attacks on two mosques in a multi-day hearing in Christchurch’s high court from 24 August.

The Australian was convicted of 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in March after reversing his initial plea to guilty.

High court justice Cameron Mander has withheld the sentencing to allow the full participation of as many victims as possible.

Woods said she was pleased to be able to overcome Covid-19 and facilitate the movement of people.

“They’re just incredibly pleased that in the middle of a global pandemic, where it is incredibly difficult to move around the world, that they have been able to travel here,” she told Radio NZ.

Woods said among the cohort were 34 victims and 13 support people, who had travelled “to be able to support their family members, many of whom are those who lost immediate family members, fathers and brothers and so forth, in the shootings”.

Of the group, 28 were New Zealand citizens and 25 needed an exemption to enter New Zealand, travelling from Australia, the UK, Turkey, Jordan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Fiji, Egypt and Singapore.

Woods said they were happy to comply with the compulsory quarantine. “The list of countries … where some of the people coming from [show] that it is vitally important that we do have that 14 days of managed isolation,” she said.

The group will not have to pay for their quarantine, arriving before the government’s charging regime kicked in.

“This group is coming in at a particularly traumatic time,” she said. “We’re working with police who have liaison members with each of the families.

“The court is also aware of the need to take what steps it can to minimise the re-traumatisation of victims and their families and avoid, to the extent possible, the hearing causing further potential harm.”

Last month, it was revealed that Tarrant’s stay in an Auckland prison was costing around $NZ2m ($1.3m) a year.

The 29-year-old livestreamed his crimes and is expected to be sentenced to life imprisonment.

dozens of victims arrive in New Zealand for gunman’s sentencing