New Zealand mosque attack suspect visited Greece: Ministry

Police securing an area in front of the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 people were killed during a terrorist attack.
Police securing an area in front of the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 people were killed during a terrorist attack.PHOTO: NYTIMES

ATHENS (AFP) - Greek officials said on Sunday (March 17) that the man suspected of carrying out the deadly shooting spree in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, visited Greece briefly in 2016.

The news came after neighbouring Bulgaria and Turkey each announced investigations into visits that Brenton Tarrant had reportedly made to the Balkan region.

Tarrant visited the Greek island of Crete, and Santorini - a nearby island in the southern Aegean - in March 2016, according to a statement from the ministry of citizen protection.

The Australian flew in from the Turkish city of Istanbul on March 20, 2016, and stayed a few days on the islands.

Tarrant also had two stopovers a Greek airport in November and December respectively.

A Greek police source said investigations into Tarrant's movements were ongoing.

Tarrant has been charged in New Zealand with murder for having allegedly carried out the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers last week (March 15), killing 50 people.

 
 
 
 

His grandmother, Madam Marie Fitzgerald, told Australia's Channel Nine network on Sunday that she believed he had "changed completely" after his travels abroad.

The authorities in Bulgaria announced last Friday they had opened an investigation into a visit by Tarrant to their country on Nov 9 to 15 last year.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said a man believed to be Tarrant had also travelled by bus across Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina from Dec 28 to 30 in 2016.

Turkey opened its own inquiry last Friday after reports that Tarrant had made several visits there and stayed for a long period in the country, a Turkish official said.