The Herald reports:
Police have laid further charges against alleged Christchurch gunman Brenton Tarrant this afternoon.
Commissioner of Police Mike Bush said a charge of engaging in a terrorist act under section 6A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 has been filed.
“The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 and follows consultation between Police, Crown Law and the Christchurch Crown Solicitors Office,” he said.
I think this decision is regrettable, and a mistake. Not because Tarrant isn’t a terrorist and isn’t guilty. But because laying this additional charge will fundamentally change the trial.
The 51 murder charges could be dealt with relatively simply. Are they dead, and did he kill them? The video evidence, some eyewitnesses and the pathology reports should be all you need.
But the terrorism charge will allow Tarrant to hijack the trial and turn it into propaganda for his beliefs. And he is already facing 51 life sentences, so a 52nd makes no practical difference.
The TSA defines a terrorist act as:
intended to cause, in any 1 or more countries, 1 or more of the outcomes specified in subsection (3), and is carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the following intention:
(a) to induce terror in a civilian population; or
(b) to unduly compel or to force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.
So you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that his actions were carried out for the purpose of an ideological cause and that it was intended to cause terror or force the Government to do something. I am sure they can make the case, but it will allow Tarrant to drone on about why he did it, in his defence.