Why Christchurch mosque attack terrorist wanted a judicial review

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Apr 2021, 6:51PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Why Christchurch mosque attack terrorist wanted a judicial review

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Apr 2021, 6:51PM

The Christchurch mosque shooter who killed 51 people wanted to complain about his designation as a "terrorist entity" and his access to news and mail.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant's requested judicial review did not go ahead in the High Court at Auckland today.

Tarrant did not attend to advance arguments about the terrorist designation or the Department of Corrections' decisions about his access to news and mail.

Justice Venning said those issues could form the basis of applications for a judicial review, but would have to be dealt with formally, so the Crown could respond to claims.

Today's hearing was intended to confirm if Tarrant wanted to pursue his grievances, or seek legal assistance.

"After the conference had been arranged, Mr Tarrant advised the prison authorities this morning that he had a complaint about a lack of access to documents and wanted the conference postponed," Justice Venning said.

The hearing was technically a civil proceeding, so Tarrant could not be forced to attend.

The hearing would have also clarified whether Tarrant wanted to get any legal assistance.

Justice Venning adjourned the matter, but Tarrant or the Crown can request another hearing as long as they give the court 14 days' notice.

The hearing was conducted by telephone conference and was in chambers, meaning any arguments or submissions made could not be reported.

But Justice Venning later issued a document explaining the issues Tarrant had hoped to pursue.

Survivors of the mosque shootings and relatives of the victims were informed of the hearing yesterday.

The hearing had no bearing on the outcome of the criminal case, or the sentence imposed last year, or on Tarrant's terrorism conviction.

Tarrant is serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the only person in New Zealand history to ever receive the sentence.

He murdered 51 people and attempted to murder 40 others at Christchurch's Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019.

He was also convicted for engaging in a terrorist act.

At his sentencing in August, Tarrant did not oppose being locked up for life. He claimed in a pre-sentence report he was not racist or xenophobic.

He described his beliefs to a pre-sentence report writer as "not real" and said he was terribly unhappy and in a "poisoned emotional state".

And he said he'd felt ostracised and wanted to damage society. But he accepted it was without doubt a terror attack.

According to the Ministry of Justice, about 180 judicial reviews are heard every year and only a person affected by a decision can apply for a judicial review.