New Zealand media sets rules for mosque shooting trial

Journalists wait as armed police officers stand guard outside the Christchurch District Court in Christchurch, on April 5, 2019, as alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant appeared for his hearing via audio-visual link.
Journalists wait as armed police officers stand guard outside the Christchurch District Court in Christchurch, on April 5, 2019, as alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant appeared for his hearing via audio-visual link.PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON • New Zealand's major media outlets have vowed to prevent the man charged with the Christchurch mosque shooting from using his trial as a platform for extremist propaganda.

Australian Brenton Tarrant is accused of shooting dead 50 people and injuring another 39 in March 15 attacks on two mosques where worshippers were gathered for Friday prayers.

The self-avowed white supremacist targeted Muslims and posted a rambling "manifesto" online before the attack detailing his extremist beliefs.

The New Zealand Media Freedom Committee, which represents the country's five largest news outlets, said yesterday the accused "may attempt to use the trial as a platform to amplify white supremacist and/or terrorist ideology".

It said editors had agreed to a set of guidelines to prevent this happening at the trial, the date of which is yet to be set.

Among the measures, they pledged to "limit any coverage of statements that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology, including the alleged gunman's manifesto".

They will also avoid reporting on or broadcasting "any message, imagery, symbols or signals" by the accused or his associates that promote extremism.

The media pledged to, among other things, "limit any coverage of statements that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology, including the alleged gunman's manifesto".

Tarrant, 28, is currently being held in a maximum security prison in Auckland and undergoing psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. His next scheduled court appearance is on June 14.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'New Zealand media sets rules for mosque shooting trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe