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New Zealand Mosque Shooting Trial Moved to Avoid Ramadan

New Zealand Mosque Shooting Trial Moved to Avoid Ramadan

Thursday, 12 September, 2019 - 06:45
FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands guard outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

New Zealand's High Court on Thursday altered next year's trial dates for Brenton Tarrant, the man accused of murdering 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch mosques, to avoid the hearing clashing with the holy month of Ramadan.

Tarrant's trial was due to begin on May 4, 2020, which next year will coincide with Ramadan.

A statement released by the court said prosecutors were concerned the clash would pose a problem.

"A number of the witnesses to be called at trial are of the Islamic faith," it said.

It said a new June 2 start date for the trial had been confirmed after the defense raised no objection to the change.

The court is scheduled to hold a brief hearing on October 3, when it is expected to make a decision on a request by the defense team to move the trial away from Christchurch.

The city was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history on March 15, when Tarrant, an Australian, opened fire at two mosques with semi-automatic weapons while livestreaming his actions on social media.

Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist, has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act.

Australia has ordered internet service providers to block access to eight websites still showing footage of the deadly attacks.

Most websites quickly removed links to the video, but Australia's eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said on Sunday eight local sites had defied her requests for the content to be deleted.

"We cannot allow this heinous material to be used to promote, incite or instruct in further terrorist acts," Grant said in an emailed statement.

The blocking of the eight websites comes amid a concentrated effort by Australia to clamp-down on the sharing of violent content online.

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