Mosque murders trial may be moved from Christchurch

An application to move the trial of alleged mosque shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant away from Christchurch will be heard in October.

The defence team of Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson has applied in the High Court at Christchurch for the change of venue.

The application was announced by Justice Cameron Mander at a case review hearing today, when he arranged for it to be heard on October 3.

The trial may also be delayed by three or four weeks, and the lawyers are now discussing that with High Court registry staff.

Families and victims of the shooting had raised the issue of moving the trial away from the period of the Muslim festival of Ramadan.

Tarrant is a 28-year-old Australian who was living in Dunedin at the time of the shootings at two Christchurch mosques – the Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and the Linwood mosque – on March 15.

He was excused from attending today’s pre-trial hearing in the Christchurch High Court, and nor did he appear by video-link from prison in Auckland where he is being held on remand.

Tarrant faces a six-week trial in the High Court, at present set to begin in May 2020. He denies 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder, and a charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Today’s hearing was a case review, part of the process on the way to trial, at which legal issues were discussed. Reporting of the pre-trial discussion by the media was not allowed, and Justice Mander cautioned members of the public present against disclosing the details outside the court.