WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand court on Thursday sentenced Brenton Tarrant, a 29-year-old Australian who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, to life in prison without parole, the first time such a sentence has been handed down in the Pacific nation.
Below are quotes from the sentencing hearing and public reaction on Thursday:
HIGH COURT JUSTICE CAMERON MANDER IN SENTENCING REMARKS
“The need to make an order that you serve your sentence without parole does not primarily arise from deterrence nor from the need to protect the community from you, powerful as both considerations are when dealing with an offender capable of such terrible crimes and the necessity of delivering a cogent message that the commission of such an atrocity will be met with the most condign response. However, I am mindful that as the years pass and you become a much older man, the risk you pose could be reassessed. The need for deterrence is also clear but the deluded motivation of zealots capable of such crimes, with their overvalued beliefs that feed such extreme violence, are less likely to be tempered by the fear of penal consequences no matter how severe.”
“Your crimes, however, are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation. Those legitimate penological grounds for continued detention will remain. At nearly 30 years of age, you are a relatively young man and the justifications for your continued detention over time may shift as the years pass. Some may change but I do not consider, however long the length of your incarceration during your lifetime, that it could, even in a modest way, atone for what you have done. Ordinarily such an approach would be a poor guarantee of just and proportionate punishment, but I consider yours is one of those exceedingly rare cases which is different.”
“As far as I am able to gauge, you are empty of any empathy for your victims.”
“The hatred that lies at the heart of your hostility to particular members of the community that you came to this country to murder has no place here - it has no place anywhere.”
NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN
“I want to acknowledge the strength of our Muslim community who shared their words in court over the past few days. You relived the horrific events of March 15 to chronicle what happened that day and the pain it has left behind.
“Nothing will take the pain away but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process, and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow.
“The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence.”
CROWN PROSECUTOR MARK ZARIFEH
“The enormity of the offending in this case is without comparison in New Zealand’s criminal history.
“The offending was motivated by an entrenched racist and xenophobic ideology and a desire to create terror within the Muslim community and beyond.
“The offender meticulously planned and prepared his attacks with the aim of executing as many people as possible.”
HINA AMIR - WHO WAS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“Finally justice has been served. I think this is what we were expecting as a community. Not only the Muslim community, but the wider community in Christchurch, I think this was the right decision. This is exactly what they were expecting.
“We are not in a country where we can expect the death penalty. But they have served justice just the way they could, giving the maximum prison time without parole.
“It’s a relief...there is a closure at least...but the trauma and the anxiety, will stay with you maybe forever.”
SARWAR HOSSAIN - BROTHER IN LAW OF MOHAMMAD OMAR FARUK, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“This monster deserves the death penalty. He has shown no remorse for what he has done. He killed 51 innocent people and wanted to kill more. It is still good he will never be free again.”
GAMAL FOUDA - IMAM OF AL NOOR MOSQUE
“No punishment will bring our loved ones back. We respect our justice system and in the New Zealand Muslim community, and the non-Muslim as well - we stood together against hate. And with it, our own model for the world.
“Extremists are all the same. Whether they use religion, nationalism or any other ideology. All extremists, they represent hate. But we are here today. We respect love, compassion, Muslim and non-Muslim people of faith and of no faith. There is us, New Zealanders, and we are very proud that we are Muslims in New Zealand and we’ll continue to serve this country, and no punishment again is going to bring our loved ones back.”
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON
“Justice today was delivered to the terrorist and murderer for his cowardly and horrific crimes in Christchurch. It is right that we will never see or hear from him ever again.
“All Australians were horrified and devastated by his despicable act.
“New Zealand is family to us. Today, we send our love across ‘the ditch’ and I had the opportunity to pass on those wishes earlier today to New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.”
NEW ZEALAND POLICE COMMISSIONER ANDREW COSTER
“While this will be recorded as an historic sentence, it is the impact on victims and their stories of survival, strength, humility and forgiveness that we must remember.
“New Zealand and the world, has felt the pain of the Muslim community and the horror of such a hateful and senseless act committed in our own backyard, against our own people.
“We responded to this event with unity and our communities came closer together, which is ultimately what will ensure that all people can be safe and feel safe in this country.”
“I would like to acknowledge the hundreds of police staff who worked for many months to ensure justice was ultimately served today.
“The investigation was one of the largest and most complex in New Zealand history, and I’m extremely proud of the team’s exceptional policing through meticulous attention to detail and commitment to putting victims first.”
Reporting by Praveen Menon, Jonathan Barrett, Tom Westbrook and Ruma Paul; Editing by Sam Holmes
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