New Zealand PM Ardern vows never to speak killer's name

Alfred Osborne
March 19, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in her first speech to her nation's Parliament after last week's terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, said the gunman should be denied the publicity he was seeking.

Ignoring widespread criticism, Turkey's president has again shown excerpts of a video taken by the attacker who killed 50 people in mosques in New Zealand. "He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist".

Ardern, who also promised to examine the role social media may have played in the massacre, demurred about whether she wanted the trial to occur behind closed doors, saying the decision was not hers to make. "He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name".

Ardern was critical of social media platforms for allowing the distribution of hatred and division, including live broadcasts of the attack.

"We have been in contact with Facebook; they have given us updates on their efforts to have it removed, but as I say, it's our view that it can not - should not - be distributed, available, able to be viewed", she said. "There can not be a case of all profit, no responsibility", she said, adding that she had received "some communication" from Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on the matter.

He said that he was one of the last few people they attended to as the mosque was so crowded.

With a possible ban on military-style, semi-automatic rifles like those Tarrant allegedly used, some New Zealanders have already taken on Ms Ardern's suggestion to consider voluntarily handing in their guns.

Her message to the New Zealand public is intended as an assurance that she will do everything she can to ensure that the alleged gunman does not lift his profile and trade on the notoriety of the attack.

Ardern previously has said her Cabinet had agreed in principle on tightening gun restrictions in New Zealand and those reforms would be announced next week.

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Tarrant, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with one count of murder but is expected to face additional charges. Meanwhile, Tarrant dismissed his court-appointed lawyer, Richard Peters, and chose to represent himself during his trial.

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Lawyer Richard Peters, who was assigned to represent Brenton Harrison Tarrant at his initial court appearance on Saturday, told the New Zealand Herald that Tarrant dismissed him that day.

YouTube and Facebook say they have taken down millions of versions of the video but have been criticised because the clip can still be accessed.

The victims, killed at two mosques during Friday prayers, were largely Muslim migrants, refugees and residents from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Turkey, Kuwait, Somalia and others.

The PM said told parliament she would look at what could be done "on the global stage and in unison with our partners".

Her comments came as police said that the bodies of five victims have been released to their families because only 12 of the 50 dead have been identified. There was a sense of safety in coming together on Monday, she said.

"While identification may seem straightforward, the reality is much more complex, particularly in a situation like this", the police statement said.

More than 250 New Zealand police are working on the inquiry, with staff from the U.S. FBI and Australia's Federal Police joining them.

"It's very unsettling not knowing what's going on", Aya said.

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