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Huge military presence at mosque shooters court appearance.

On Monday, 528 days since a terrorist gunman carried out mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, he will come face to face with his victims and their families.

This is the day when sentencing begins for Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, on 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of committing a terrorist act in a hearing due to start at 10am in the city’s High Court.

The Australian national, who entered surprise guilty pleas in late March, could become the first person in New Zealand to be jailed for life without parole.

While details of Operation Curtain, the major security operation surrounding the high-profile, unprecedented sentencing, are a closely guarded secret, Stuff understands law enforcement agencies have been quietly working on it for months.

The gunman, who’s been held in isolation at Auckland Prison, the country’s only specialist maximum security facility, since his arrest, was flown to Christchurch on a New Zealand Defence Force aircraft – a C-130 Hercules – on Sunday afternoon accompanied by a small, hand-picked group of dedicated Corrections staff responsible for his management.

For the duration of the sentencing, he is being held at the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct where he can be escorted from a cell below ground to the courtroom, rather than having to be transported between the court and Christchurch Men’s Prison every day. This is mainly to mitigate the risk of him being attacked while in transit.

The cell, where he’ll be monitored around the clock when not in court, is thought to have been fitted with special screens on the outside to prevent people using the lift to the High Court from seeing him.

When the terrorist walks into court, the level of restraint he’ll be subject to is unclear, but in the past high-risk individuals, such as double killer Russell John Tully, have been manacled to chairs and cuffed to prison officers during court hearings.

On Sunday, security outside the justice precinct, which combines the city’s main police station and court buildings, was tight. Armed police stood guard, surrounding roads – Tuam and Lichfield streets – were blocked and two military all-terrain vehicles were present.

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price previously said there would be a heightened police presence in the city prior to and during the sentencing.

Military vehicles arrive at the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct on Sunday ahead of Monday’s sentencing.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff
Military vehicles arrive at the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct on Sunday ahead of Monday’s sentencing.

It’s understood police have visited a number of high risk individuals, some with known ties to white supremacy, in the city and other parts of the country in recent weeks. They’ve been closely monitoring discussions on online forums and message boards.

Anyone entering the court this week will be subject to rigorous screening.

Only essential court services such as priority proceedings, criminal arrests and urgent Youth Court matters will be running while the sentencing is underway, and court counters have been temporarily closed.

Extra fencing and road closures have been put up around Christchurch’s court rooms in the Justice Precinct.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff
Extra fencing and road closures have been put up around Christchurch’s court rooms in the Justice Precinct.

The sentencing, which will take place in front of Justice Cameron Mander, will start with a reading of the summary of facts which could shed light on some of the unanswered questions that still remain after the massacre.

Armed police stood guard outside the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct on Sunday ahead of the sentencing.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff
Armed police stood guard outside the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct on Sunday ahead of the sentencing.

It is then expected that victims will begin reading their statements describing the impact of the terror attack. These will continue on Tuesday and likely through Wednesday with at least 66 victims indicating they would like to read, or have their statements, read in court.

Following the conclusion of the victim impact statements, the shooter will have an opportunity to address the court.

The sentencing hearing is expected to conclude on Thursday. However, if more time is needed the hearing will resume on Monday, as Friday is the Muslim day of prayer.

Significantly fewer people will be able to attend the sentencing due to level 2 coronavirus restrictions meaning fewer victims and their support people will be allowed in the main courtroom. Proceedings will be streamed to seven overflow courtrooms with a total of 230 people able to be present.

While 11 New Zealand news organisations and 18 overseas media organisations have applied to report on the sentencing, live reporting of the proceedings has been prohibited.

News of the hearing will be embargoed until the lunchtime and end-of-day adjournments.

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.

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3 thoughts on “Huge military presence at mosque shooters court appearance.

  1. What makes Tarrant’s crime so heinous is that it is absolutely contrary to Western morality – you do not take others’ lives. For Muslims, taking non-Muslim lives is an obligatory part of their religion and just another day at the office. Average daily murder rate in the name of Islam since 2001? 36 dead, 48 injured, day in, day out, for more than 18 years. For the mosque massacre, cui bono? Ardern, Islam, and Dr Paul Spoonley with his somewhat obsessive pursuit of the extreme Right. Cui plagalis? Anyone with an etic knowledge of Islam, Christians, whites, Western civilisation, and reason having to give way to feelings and emotion. Tarrant deserves life without parole for the damage he’s done, not to Islam, but to what he holds dearest.

    1. Which is why so many are thinking it’s an inside job, the way Cindy changed the gun laws as soon as Tarrant came into the country, with pictures of Tarrant training with terrorists, and an unquestioning media paid off by the same government that organised it all to happen.

  2. “Changed the gun laws” was an implicit recognition that Tarrant’s actions were early shots in a civil war that the Islamo-Leftists are bringing us into via a Thucydides Trap. The rising power of Islam and the contribution of the far Left to facilitate it is likely to bring about a reaction, which Islam will win because Muslims are prepared to die for their cause. Few Westerners will do that because the extreme Left has eroded the defences of Western culture. Given that then, it would appear that the purpose of changing the gun laws was to limit the lethality of weapons available to Islamo-Leftists’ potential opponents. And thus the exception doesn’t just prove the rule, it changes it.

    …”inside job” is an extraordinary claim which will require extraordinary proof. Sensible people won’t go there.

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