WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s High Court on Thursday altered next year’s trial dates for the man accused of murdering 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch mosques to avoid the hearing clashing with the holy month of Ramadan.
Australian Brenton Tarrant’s trial was due to begin on May 4, 2020, which next year will coincide with Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.
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 defence 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 defence team to move the trial away from Christchurch.
The South Island city was the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history on March 15, when Tarrant allegedly opened fire at two mosques 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. — AFP