NZ man jailed for sharing video of mosque attacks

WELLINGTON • A New Zealand man was jailed for 21 months yesterday for distributing the gruesome live-stream video of the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Philip Arps, 44, was arrested in Christchurch four days after alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant's March 15 rampage at two mosques in the city resulted in the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history.

Arps pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing objectionable material for sharing footage that was live-streamed to social media during the attack.

Christchurch District Court heard that Arps distributed the raw footage to about 30 people and had another version modified to include crosshairs and a "kill count", The New Zealand Herald reported.

"This was in effect a hate crime against the Muslim community," Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said, adding that it was particularly cruel to share the video in the days after the attacks, when families were still waiting to hear news of their loved ones.

The judge found that Arps had set out to "glorify" the deaths of Muslims and any punishment other than imprisonment was inappropriate, Radio New Zealand reported.

New Zealand's chief censor David Shanks classified the video as objectionable content soon after the shooting, making sharing the footage a crime punishable by up to 14 years in jail. He also outlawed publication of the rambling manifesto that the shooter posted online before the attacks.

Arps was convicted in 2016 of offensive behaviour for leaving a pig's head at the Al Noor mosque, one of the two targeted in the mass shooting, Newshub reported.

Tarrant last week pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, as well as 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder. He was committed to stand trial in May next year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2019, with the headline 'NZ man jailed for sharing video of mosque attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe