Complexity shrouds extradition of mass murderer to Australia

Complexity shrouds extradition of mass murderer to Australia

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 27, 2020

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters (RNZ Picture by Claire Eastham-Farrelly)

New Zealand First Party Leader Winston Peters wants Brenton Tarrant to be sent back to Australia.

but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that extradition is a complex process and that there is no legal framework at present.

The terrorist was sentenced for life without parole at the Christchurch High Court on Thursday, August 27, 2020 after three days of victims’ statement.

Tarrant, who had pleaded guilty earlier to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism, declined to make any statement in the court.

Crimes against Muslims

Mr Peters, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, welcomed the sentencing, stated to be the harshest in the history of New Zealand and hoped that it would help to heal the families of victims and others affected by the massacre.

“The judgement is the only one that matched the depravity of the terrorist’s crimes against the Islamic community, and it’s devastating effect on all people living in this country. New Zealand First also believes this terrorist should be returned to the country that raised him,” he said.

He called on Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to ‘receive and carry out the terrorist’s sentence in his country.’

“The Islamic community and all of New Zealand has already suffered enough without having to pay astronomical prison costs to keep him safe in our prison system,” he said.

Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison addressing the Media in Sydney on February 28, 2020 (PMC Media Photo)

Trauma hard to heal

Ms Ardern said that the wishes of the families of victims should be held paramount, while Justice Minister Andrew Little said that as per the existing law, an Australian can be sent back to their country only after they have completed their sentence.

Ms Ardern said that she wanted 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, 2019 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,” she said.

Mr Peters’ suggestion of extradition was instantly watered down across the Tasman.

‘No Agreement’ says Australia

A spokesperson for Attorney General Christian Porter said that there was no agreement between New Zealand and Australia for transfer of any prisoners from New Zealand.

He said that under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act, the Australian Government can only transfer prisoners from a country which is recognised as a ‘transfer country’ under the ITP Act.

“New Zealand is not a ‘transfer country’ under the ITP Act as it does not have any agreement or arrangement for prisoner transfers with Australia,’’ the spokesman said.

Earlier in the day, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he believed Tarrant should serve his sentence in New Zealand.

He said that New Zealand had not raised the issue with him.

Police Commissioner Andy Coster

Milestone Judgement

On another note, Police Commissioner Andy Coster described the sentencing as ‘a milestone in the judicial process in New Zealand.’

But is should not overshadow the incredible stories of determination and survival of victims, heard over the course of this week. 

“It is those people I wish to acknowledge and pay tribute. While this is an unprecedented sentence, it will not ease the grief of the victims, their families and communities, nor will it erase the abhorrence we felt as a nation. 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,” he said.

Hateful and senseless

Commissioner Coster said that 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,” he said.

Commissioner Coster said that the investigation relating to the Mosque shootings was one of the largest and most complex in New Zealand history.

“I am extremely proud of the team’s exceptional policing through meticulous attention to detail and commitment to putting victims first,” he said.

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