The Christchurch terrorist who said he wanted to take the government to court over the lack of access to news and letters in jail and his designation as a terrorist entity has not attended the first court hearing on the matter.
The hearing in Auckland, New Zealand, has been postponed indefinitely and the terrorist must ask to be rescheduled after his no-show on Thursday.
Brenton Tarrant, a 30-year-old Australian, was jailed for life in August last year without the possibility of parole for the murder of 51 Muslim worshipers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques on March 15, 2019, the assassination attempt dozens more, and one count of terrorism.
He remains in a maximum security prison in Auckland, where he is in solitary confinement. He was to represent himself by phone at Thursday’s superior court hearing.
It was convened after he said in a letter to the superior court on February 27 that he wanted to challenge his prison conditions and his official designation as a terrorist. His complaint was filed shortly before the second anniversary of the attacks.
The latest judicial appointment was intended to confirm that he wanted to go ahead with his complaints, if he planned to hire a lawyer and other practical matters. After he decided not to attend, citing the lack of access to the documents, the judge postponed the hearing indefinitely; the terrorist must ask for the case to continue.
His request for judicial review – an examination of whether the official actions were legal, of the decisions about his mail and his label as a terrorist – does not affect his 2020 guilty plea to all the charges he faced.
Nor will you change your life sentence without the possibility of getting out of jail; he was the first person in modern New Zealand history to receive such punishment.
The gunman streamed images of the mass shootings live on Facebook and posted a document online about his ideology, prompting unprecedented efforts by the New Zealand government to limit the spread of his views and his ability to use his platform to spread racist hatred.
His mail has been restricted since it emerged in August 2019 that he had sent at least one incitement letter to a supporter, which was posted on a message board associated with white supremacists.
At the time, New Zealand prison authorities said they had changed the handling of Tarrant’s mail and that he would be examined by a team of specialists. They said that he should not have been allowed to send the letter that came up online.
New Zealand law allows prisoners to receive mail unless there is a good reason not to.
Prison authorities have declined to detail the exact nature of the restrictions on Tarrant’s correspondence. Authorities confirmed in August last year that the only television he was allowed to watch was the Home and Garden channel.
In a statement at the time, the Department of Corrections said it was handling his incarceration in accordance with New Zealand law and international conventions.
Its designation as a terrorist entity (it was the first individual, rather than a group, to be added to the list in a government ruling last September) makes it a crime to participate in and support its activities, or to finance them, or for the terrorist to Try to recruit others to your ideology. It is likely to further reduce the correspondence you can send and receive from jail.
Some of the survivors of the attack and the grieving families noted that the hearing was held on the second day of Ramadan, a holy month of spirituality and fasting for Muslims. As their criminal case progressed through the courts for more than a year, families had complained that the gunman sometimes smiled and laughed during hearings, and feared that he would manipulate the legal process to generate attention or spread their views. .
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism