New Zealand mosque shooter launches legal challenge against prison conditions and ‘terrorist’ status

Liam James
·2-min read
Brenton Tarrant received life without parole for his crimes (Getty)
Brenton Tarrant received life without parole for his crimes (Getty)

Brenton Tarrant, the mass shooter who killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosques in 2019, has launched a legal challenge against his prison conditions and his status as a “terrorist entity”.

The white supremacist carried out the worst mass shooting in the country's history and was sentenced last August to life in jail without parole for the murder of 51 people, the attempted murder of 40 others, and terrorism.

Thirty-year-old Tarrant, an Australian national, is the only person in New Zealand to have a terror charge brought against them and the first to get a life sentence without parole.

A judicial review will be held at the High Court in Auckland on Thursday, with Tarrant representing himself, New Zealand court authorities said.

Preliminary information provided to court officials indicate that Tarrant wishes the Court to review decisions made by the Department of Corrections about his prison conditions, and also his designation as a “terrorist entity” under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

The hearing will have no bearing on the outcome of the criminal case against Tarrant, or his conviction and sentence, the court said.

Families of the victims and the survivor community were notified about the hearing on Wednesday. It will not be open to the public but media is permitted to attend.

Tarrant is being held at a special “prison within a prison” which was set up months after his attack, according to NZ Herald.

Only two other prisoners are held in New Zealand's Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit and Tarrant has a wing to himself, the paper reported.

Rachel Leota, National Corrections Services Commissioner, told the Herald guards montior Tarrant by camera and have little to no contact with him.

“Like all people in prison, this individual receives three meals per day at times determined by the unit's schedule. Additionally, he is able to access television for a limited number of hours daily, has approved books to read if he chooses, and has access to his exercise yard twice daily,” Ms Leota said.

Tarrant was the first person to be sentenced to life without parole in New Zealand. Judge Cameron Mander of Christchurch High Court said Tarrant had shown no remorse and that no matter how long he spent in prison it would not be long enough to atone for his crimes.

“Your crimes ... are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation,” said the judge in handing down the sentence.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read More

Tribe that worships Prince Philip begins weeks-long mourning ceremony

Homes destroyed as cyclone Seroja makes landfall in western Australia

Western Australia braces for ‘worst case scenario’ as cyclone nears