Life in prison with no chance of parole . . .
The man who pled guilty to terrorist shootings that killed 51 people and injured 40 others on March 15, 2019, at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was sentenced on Thursday. The killer, a 29-year old Australian citizen, had lived in New Zealand for at least two years prior to the killings. He posted his white supremacist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam manifesto online before his murderous spree, which he live-streamed on social media. He was arrested en route to a third mosque. The killer received the most severe sentence possible in New Zealand – life in prison without any chance of parole. He is the first person to receive such a sentence.
Victim impact statements . . .
The sentencing hearing began on Monday and lasted almost four days, three of which consisted largely of victim impact statements. Survivors and family members spoke of the devastation of losing loved ones, the killer’s cowardice, the enduring strength of New Zealand’s Muslim community, and the love and support they have received from across the country. Before pronouncing the sentence, the presiding justice described the killer’s ideology as one that has no place in New Zealand. To deny the killer a platform for spreading his white supremacist ideology, media were not allowed to report live from the hearings.
Contested responses . . .
Like Canada, New Zealand is a multicultural society that is open to immigration. While the event in many ways brought the country together in support and mourning, there remain disagreements about some responses to the shooting. New Zealand’s newly restrictive gun laws and a gun buy-back scheme, passed by Parliament in a near-unanimous vote less than a month after the shootings, are unpopular with some gun owners and critics describe the buy-back as ineffective. Senior members of the country’s coalition government are divided on whether the killer should be deported to his native Australia. And while the killer’s name is used by media outlets across the globe, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has refused to state his name publicly to minimize his notoriety. Asia Watch has chosen to do the same.
- The Independent: New Zealand survivor tells mosque gunman: ‘You are the loser, and we are the winners’ (with video)
- New Zealand Herald: Focus Live: PM Ardern comments after Christchurch gunman sentenced (video)
- Radio New Zealand: Christchurch mosque attacks: Terrorist sentenced to life in jail without parole