‘Mosque shooter’ may avoid terror charge
Legal experts in New Zealand fear the accused Christchurch mosque killer could use his trial to showcase his evil manifesto.
A former senior Crown prosecutor, Ross Burns, said if Tarrant faced a trial on terrorism charges it could lead to a long, drawn-out affair - which he could use "to espouse his ideological reasons".
Fifty people were killed in the attack last Friday, and dozens more were injured when Tarrant allegedly filmed himself shooting people at two city mosques.
Mr Burns told NZ website Stuff prosecutors instead could favour a straight murder trial where only two things had to be proven, whether the accused did it and if it was his intention to kill.
Charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act must prove it was done for ideological or political reasons, and was intended to terrorise the community.
"In my view, the elements are all made out, but to minimise the impact on victims, straight murder is easier to prove.
"And there's less scope to use a platform to espouse his ideological reasons."
The 17-minute livestreamed video - which has caused revulsion around the world - and the hate-filled document he placed online before the shootings would be key parts of any criminal trial.
Tarrant has reportedly indicated he would represent himself. The legal representatives who acted for him on Saturday was a duty lawyer, so reports he fired them were not accurate.
Reports from New Zealand suggest Tarrant has been warned he is a marked man by gang members.
The New Zealand Herald reported one gang member said: "We've got friends inside too".
The paper said the gang member didn't elaborate but the "meaning was clear".
"Threats should be taken very seriously," said Canterbury University criminologist Greg Newbold, who has spent time in prison himself earlier in his life.
"I would take that very seriously and I would say he would be in extreme danger.
"There will be people in prison who will be pretty angry about it, particularly the fact that he's a white supremacist," he told the Herald.
Mr Newbold said it was possible he could spend the rest of his life in segregation, and at least the next five to 10 years in "effective" solitary confinement - for his own safety.
"He could easily be killed."
Tarrant has so far been charged with a single count of murder and has been remanded to a maximum security prison where he is being watched 24/7 ahead of his return to court early next month.
Tarrant is an Australian citizen from Grafton, in New South Wales. Police and intelligence services on both sides of the Tasman have been probing his movements in recent years as he made his way out of both countries and into Europe.
Tarrant said in his online document New Zealand was not the original intended target, but he changed his mind after moving to Dunedin, in the South Island, to train and prepare. Once there, he allegedly selected it for the attack because of its image as one of the safest countries in the world.
AUSTRALIANS TOLD TO BE CAREFUL
Australians have responded to the attacks with shock and outrage, but the Federal Government has warned citizens travelling overseas to avoid protests in case they find themselves targeted.
The government would monitor any threat Australian tourists could face.
"The terrorist attack, motivated by extreme right-wing ideology, has drawn strong condemnation internationally," it said in a statement on the Smart Traveller website.
"Demonstrations and protests against Australia may occur. Australians travelling overseas should continue to use common sense, be vigilant and exercise caution. They should look out for and report suspicious behaviour, as they would in Australia.
"They should monitor the media and other sources for information about possible new safety or security threats, and follow the advice of local authorities. They should avoid demonstrations and protests, as they can turn violent."
Meanwhile, former prime minister Tony Abbott believes authorities must "wake up to themselves" and police social media more closely after the mosque massacre.
The alleged gunman behind Friday's mass shooting, which was live-streamed on Facebook, used his real name and photograph.
Nonetheless, Mr Abbott is concerned extremists are free to exist in anonymity on Facebook and other platforms.
"You should only be able to go online as yourself, under your real name. We've got to end it, we absolutely have to end it," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio today.
"We've got to clean this thing up otherwise it will do us untold damage."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Bill Shorten have also taken aim at social media companies for not doing enough to ensure the vision of the attack was not republished.