Mosque Shooting Suspect Will Face Justice In New Zealand, Prime Minister Says

Jacinda Ardern also said her nation's gun laws "need to change.”

An Australian man who has been charged with murder in the shooting rampage that killed at least 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday will be tried in the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday.

The man, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, appeared in a Christchurch court Saturday and was charged with one count of murder. He was remanded in custody and was scheduled to appear in court again on April 5.

At a news conference Sunday, Ardern said the police will be filing additional charges against Tarrant, who is being held under high security in a special facility.

Asked whether Tarrant would be extradited to Australia, the prime minister said, “He will certainly face the justice system of New Zealand for the terror attack he has committed here.”

Ardern also said she intended to move quickly to toughen the nation’s gun laws. “We cannot be deterred from the work that we need to do on our gun laws in New Zealand,” she said. “They need to change.”

She added that her cabinet would begin discussions about gun legislation on Monday.

Arden said the bodies of the people killed in the attacks are beginning to be returned to the families of the victims. “It is the expectation that all bodies will be returned to families by Wednesday,” she said.

The families will be given $10,000 to help with funeral costs and other resources may be made available to them, Ardern said. Citizenship will have no bearing on the payments, she added.

Ardern also confirmed that the government had received the shooter’s manifesto before the attack. “This was received by over 30 recipients nine minutes before guns were fired,” she said. “Within two minutes of its receipt it went to our Parliamentary security. But again, the advice we have from police is that actually by the time any of the emails and details could have been passed on, they were already receiving (calls about the attacks) and were responding. And someone was being taken into custody within 36 minutes.”

Police will increase their presence throughout New Zealand on Monday, especially in Christchurch, she said. Officers will be posted at all mosques when they are open or holding prayer services.

New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, consoles a Muslim woman on Sunday in the wake of Friday's mosque attacks.
New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, consoles a Muslim woman on Sunday in the wake of Friday's mosque attacks.