The alleged Christchurch mosque shooter sent a “manifesto” to the office of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern minutes before the terrorist attack that left 50 people dead, she has said.
Her office was among more than 30 New Zealand parliamentary email addresses that received the document on Friday.
The document did not include a location or specific details about the attack.
“I was one of more than 30 recipients of the manifesto that was mailed out nine minutes before the attack took place. It did not include a location, it did not include specific details,” she said.
“I am advised that within two minutes of its receipt, at least my office it was conveyed directly to parliamentary security.”
Ardern said that if the document had “provided details that could have been acted upon immediately it would have been”.
“Unfortunately, there were no such details in that email,” she said.
She said she had read “elements” of the document, which was also sent to media outlets and the parliamentary tourism office in the minutes before the attack.
“Again, the fact that there was an ideological manifesto with extreme views attached to this attack, of course that is deeply disturbing,” she said.
Ardern said she was receiving advice as to whether the man accused of killing 50 people in the attack could be deported after his trial. Brenton Tarrant, who is an Australian citizen, was charged with one count of murder in relation to the attacks on Saturday.
“I don’t want to preempt anything,” she said. “He will certainly face the justice system of New Zealand.”
Ardern said there were “questions to be answered” about the role social media played in disseminating video of the attack and confirmed she had been contacted by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer in the wake of the shootings.
“This is a problem that goes well beyond New Zealand. It has played out in other parts of the world. So while we might have seen action taken here, that has not dented them being circulated beyond New Zealand’s shores,” Ardern said.
Earlier in the day Ardern went to Kilbirnie mosque in Wellington to lay flowers. She said the Accident Compensation Corporation would provide families with a funeral grant of around $10,000.
The death toll from the mosque terror attacks in Christchurch had risen to 50, New Zealand’s police commissioner confirmed earlier in the day.
Bush also adressed concerns that police took too long to respond to the massacre, saying officers were at the scene within 6 minutes of the first emergency call, and armed offenders within 10 minutes.
Police had apprehended the killer within 36 minutes, Bush said.
Speaking to reporters in Wellington, Mike Bush said by Saturday night all victims had been removed from the scenes of the massacres at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Thirty-four of the injured remain in Christchurch hospital, where they are being treated with the utmost care and professionalism by medical staff. Twelve people were critical, and one child was also in hospital in Christchurch. A four-year-old girl remained in a critical condition in Auckland.
Tarrant remains the only person charged in relation to the attacks, Bush said, and he would likely face more charges. A woman apprehended at the scene was released without charge. Another 18 year-old man arrested in a vehicle had been charged with firearm offences unrelated to the terrorist attack.
Bush acknowledged the frustration being felt by family members of the victims, who were desperate to bury their loved ones. While interpretation of Islamic law regarding burials varies, burying a person as soon as possible after death is a fundamental principal of Islam, usually no more than 24 hours later.
Bush said forensic officers and pathologists had been working around the clock to gather the evidence from the bodies needed.
“What we have to do is determine the cause of death,” Bush said. “We have been working with pathologists and working with coroners and the chief coroner to complete that process. We have to be absolutely clear on cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen. But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs. So we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible.”
On Sunday afternoon, Ardern said a small number of bodies would be released to families by Sunday night.
Bush paid tribute to police officers who responded to the scene and who had the grim task of assisting the wounded and detaining the gunman.
“Our staff acted with absolute courage in intervening and had to use some force and deploy tactical options to make that happen. That put themselves in harm’s way to stop further attack. I do believe they did prevent further attacks.”
Bush said New Zealanders should return to their normal lives and routines on Monday, but would see a visible and heightened police presence in Christchurch “on the streets, around your businesses, around your schools, and even in the air, right across the country. So you will feel safe to go about what you want to do tomorrow.”