New Zealand reschedules mosque shooting trial to avoid Ramadan

New Zealand reschedules mosque shooting trial to avoid Ramadan
2 min read
12 September, 2019
'A number of the witnesses to be called at trial are of the Islamic faith,' New Zealand’s High Court said in a statement announcing the trial dates had been moved.

New Zealand has enacted a raft of gun law restrictions [Getty]

New Zealand's High Court on Thursday altered next year's trial dates for the man accused of murdering 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch mosques to avoid the hearing clashing with the holy month of Ramadan.

Australian Brenton Tarrant's trial was due to begin on May 4, 2020, which next year will coincide with Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.

A statement released by the court said prosecutors were concerned the clash would pose a problem.

"A number of the witnesses to be called at trial are of the Islamic faith," it said.

It said a new 2 June start date for the trial had been confirmed after the defence raised no objection to the change.

The court is scheduled to hold a brief hearing on 3 October, when it is expected to make a decision on a request by the defence team to move the trial away from Christchurch.

The South Island city was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history on 15 March, when Tarrant allegedly opened fire at two mosques while livestreaming his actions on social media.

Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist, has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act.

He pleaded not guilty at his initial hearing.

In the wake of the tragedy, New Zealand's government has been praised for its swift crackdown on gun violence, as well as its compassion with the Muslim community.

In the days following the shooting, the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast on national television and women were encouraged to wear headscarves to show their support for the Muslim community.