Christchurch terror attack: Coronial inquiry launched

Al Noor Mosque. Photo: NZH / George Heard
Al Noor Mosque. Photo: NZH / George Heard
A coronial inquiry will be held into the Christchurch terror attacks, it's been confirmed.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall. Photo: NZH / Michael Craig
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall. Photo: NZH / Michael Craig
Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall made the announcement this afternoon and will examine the deaths of all 51 Muslims shot dead at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019.

"I have now formally opened a coronial inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch masjid attacks," she said in a statement.

"In making this decision, I have considered the questions and concerns raised by families of the Shaheed, victims and other interested parties."

Opening an inquiry allows more in-depth investigation into the causes and circumstances of the deaths resulting from the attacks.

It also allows a coroner to make recommendations or comments that might prevent similar deaths happening in the future.

"It's worth noting that an inquiry must be opened before an inquest (a hearing in court where the coroner hears from witnesses in person) can be held, but a decision has yet to be made about whether an inquest will occur and what form it might take," the chief coroner said.

"In light of my decision to retire, announced earlier this year, Coroner Brigitte Windley will be replacing me as the coroner assigned to the Christchurch masjid attacks inquiry.

"Coroner Windley is a highly experienced coroner based in Wellington, who was appointed to the Coroners Court in 2015 and has undertaken many complex inquiries. She will continue to work alongside me until I hand over the inquiry and she becomes the responsible coroner. The processes I have already set up in this investigation will not change.'

The Coroners Court will work to ensure the families of the shaheed, victims and interested parties continue to be involved in the inquiry process, "that the many people and communities impacted by this tragedy find some answers to lingering questions, and that the deceased are given a voice".

Spy chiefs, police, and the Prime Minister apologised last December after a much-awaited report detailed how the Christchurch mosque terrorist was able to plot, amass an arsenal of weapons, and execute his deadly attack.

New Zealand's security agencies had deployed "an inappropriate concentration of resources" probing Islamic extremism when the Australian-born gunman attacked two mosques on March 15, 2019, a Royal Commission of Inquiry concluded in a much-awaited 792-page report released in December.

But despite that focus – along with police accepting that Brenton Harrison Tarrant "did not meet required standards" in their checks and processes in granting him a firearms licence – nothing could have been done to stop the attacks, which left 51 Muslims dead, the independent report said.

The 29-year-old Australian terrorist behind the attacks was jailed to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.





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