Australia open to repatriation of New Zealand mosque shooter
Sydney, Australia, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that he is “open” to discussing the repatriation of the man who carried out the March 2019 supremacist attack in New Zealand to serve his life sentence in an Australian prison, but added that no official request had been made.
Australian Brenton Tarrant was sentenced Thursday by a court in New Zealand to life in prison without parole for killing 51 people in an attack against two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
He was also sentenced for 40 charges of attempted murder and one of terrorism.
“These sorts of decisions obviously have a lot of implications and the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern) and I will talk about these issues,” Morrison told broadcaster Channel 7, while adding that he had not yet received a formal request for Tarrant to be sent back to Australia.
Following the conviction of Tarrant, an Australian national who traveled to New Zealand in 2017 to carry out the terrorist attack, the leader of the conservative New Zealand First Party, Winston Peters, who is also deputy prime minister in Ardern’s coalition government, called, among others, for the supremacist to be repatriated.
However, in remarks after Tarrant’s sentencing, Ardern said “today probably isn’t the day for too much discussion around that.”
“The one thing I should say, though, is that there isn’t currently a legal basis for it so it would be a very complex undertaking,” she added.
“I think the thing though – more than even just the legal basis for it – that I would be most interested in is the views of the families,” said the New Zealand leader, who was praised this week during Tarrant’s sentencing hearing by the survivors and families of the victims.
The high cost of keeping Tarrant in New Zealand is one of the ongoing debates in the country and the government has allocated $2.6 million for the first two years of his incarceration, including an increase in security measures.
According to expert Alexander Gillespie, keeping Tarrant behind bars costs about $3,275 a day due to the additional security measures while keeping a common prisoner costs $225 a day.
The Australian government has deported thousands of New Zealanders since 2014, usually after they have served their sentence as Canberra and Wellington do not have a prisoner exchange agreement. EFE-EPA