New Zealand moves mosque shooting trial to avoid Ramadan

Brenton Tarrant has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

New Zealand moves mosque shooting trial to avoid Ramadan

  • Australian Brenton Tarrant’s trial was due to begin on May 4, 2020, which next year will coincide with Ramadan
  • A statement released by the court said prosecutors were concerned the clash would pose a problem

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 defense 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 defense 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.


Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Ghazni

Updated 53 min 11 sec ago

Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Ghazni

  • Initial reports said the plane belonged to a private company
  • All people on board were reportedly killed in the crash

KABUL/KARACHI: The Afghan Taliban have claimed responsibility for downing a US military aircraft in Ghazni province on Monday.
“A special aircraft of the American occupant was flying in the area for the purpose of an intelligence mission in the Sado Khail region of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement accompanied by video footage and photographs of the aircraft and charred bodies.
“Our mujahideen have taken down (the aircraft) tactically,” he told Arab News, adding that all crew members and passengers consisting of several senior CIA officers were killed. The fuselage and the bodies remained at the crash site, he said.
He did not disclose what kind of weapons the group has used to down the plane.
In the photographs the letters “USAF” (United States Air Force) can be seen on the wreck.

This photograph released by the Afghan Taliban shows the wreckage of a US military aircraft they claim to have downed in Ghazni province on Jan. 27, 2020. (Supplied)

In an earlier television statement, Ghazni Governor Waheedullah Kalemzai said the crash took place outside the government’s area of control.
Kalemzai’s spokesman Aref Noori told reporters in an audio message the “aircraft belonged to a foreign company and all of the passengers on board were non-Afghans.”
“The plane has caught fire. Except for the two pilots, the rest of the bodies cannot be identified, nor the type of plane can be specified,” he said.
He said the government did not have immediate information about the type, origin of the plane and how many people were on board.
Initial reports said the aircraft belonged to state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines.
The airline has dismissed the reports. 
Ali Sena, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Transportation, told Arab News that no plane of any local firm had crashed. 
US-led NATO forces and foreign firms in Afghanistan sometimes use private companies to transport their equipment and goods in various parts of the country. 
The Taliban on several occasions have shot such aircraft.
The US military has not issued any statement and could not be reached for comment.
If the militant group’s claim is confirmed, it may have an impact on ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban in Qatar.