Fri, Aug 16, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Christchurch killer’s trial may be put off until after Ramadan

AP, WELLINGTON

The trial of the man accused of killing 51 people at two New Zealand mosques could be delayed by several weeks next year to avoid clashing with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The trial had been scheduled to begin on May 3 in Christchurch, where the Muslim worshippers were killed five months ago during Friday prayers on March 15.

Prosecutors said during a hearing yesterday that they were working with court officials to see if they could fulfil the wishes of survivors and victims’ families by delaying the trial until after Ramadan ends in late May, Radio New Zealand (RMZ) reported.

Also during the hearing, lawyers for accused gunman, Brenton Tarrant, asked if the venue for the trial could be changed to Auckland, where Tarrant is being held at a maximum security prison, RNZ reported.

Judge Cameron Mander plans to hear arguments for the venue change during the next hearing on Oct. 3.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, has been charged with terrorism, murder and attempted murder.

He did not attend yesterday’s hearing, which came a day after prison officials admitted making a mistake by allowing him to send a six-page letter to a supporter, which was later posted on the 4chan Web site, notorious as a place for white supremacists to post their views.

Corrections Department Chief Executive Christine Stevenson apologized for the distress the letter might have caused to victims of the attacks and said Tarrant had been stopped from sending or receiving any more letters until the department had processes in place to ensure the safety of the public.

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