Weekly News Roundup

June 14, 2019

Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant pleads not guilty to murder, terrorism charges
Image: ABC News

Friday, June 14

The Australian man charged over the Christchurch mosque killings, Brenton Tarrant, has pleaded not guilty to 51 charges of murder.

During his hearing at the High Court in Christchurch, Mr Tarrant pleaded not guilty via his lawyer to 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act over the March killings.

It is the first time someone in New Zealand has been charged under the country’s terrorism suppression act, which was introduced after the September 11 attacks.

The 28-year-old seemed calm and composed as he appeared via a video link from a high-security prison in Auckland.

The courtroom was packed with about 80 family members of those killed, along with those injured in the attack.

A community member spoke to the victims and families ahead of the hearing, urging them to draw strength from the holy month of Ramadan.

The trial has been set for next year May 4.

At the moment it is not clear what the 28-year-old’s defence strategy will be, however, it is expected that a large number of witnesses will be called to appear in the trial.

Reports say that Tarrant planned on defending himself in court, but is still being represented by Auckland-based barristers Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson.

On March 15, the gunman armed with several high-powered weapons, opened fire on worshippers at two mosque during Friday prayers.

The attack left 51 people dead, including several children.

The shootings were also live streamed on Facebook, with the video viewed more than 4,000 times before it was removed at the request of New Zealand police.

24 hours after the attack, the social network also removed 1.5 million copies of the video from its platform.

Tarrant who was raised in Grafton in northern New South Wales, was living in the New Zealand city of Dunedin for several months prior to the attack.

He had a gun license that allowed him to legally obtain weapons and was a member of a local rifle club near Dunedin.  

Australian and New Zealand security authorities did not know the 28-year-old for violent extremism or serious criminal behaviour prior to the massacre.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to change the country’s gun laws just days after the attack.

Parliament voted to ban most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns in April.

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Over the weekend Ash Barty won the French Open in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) against Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova.

“I played the perfect match today,” Barty said.

“It’s been a magical two weeks.”

Barty paid tribute to her coach and support – “Thank you guys for sticking with me. It’s been the most amazing journey we’ve been on the last three years. And I feel like it’s just the start. Let’s go celebrate tonight.”

Her parents tried to make it to Paris to watch their daughter play in her first grand slam final but it’s reported they didn’t make it in time.

Barty’s French Open will give her the number two ranking.

The last Australian woman to be ranked second in the world was Evonne Goolagon Cawley back in 1976.

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Eight popular milk brands sold in supermarkets in Victoria and southern New South Wales are being recalled over fears a cleaning solution made its way into the batch.

Dairy company Lactalis Australia announced the recall of one-litre Coles, Pauls, REV and PhysiCAL milks because they could have been contaminated by a food grade dairy cleaning solution.

Food Standards Australia warned the milks could have a yellowish colour or metallic chemical taste.

The contaminated milk was sold at Coles, Woolworths, IGA and independent supermarkets.

Coles said in a statement that supermarkets in the NSW locations of Lavington, Deniliquin and Albury were among those supplied with the potentially contaminated milk.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand said it was a food safety issue and anyone concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

What’s been recalled:

  • Pauls Smarter White Milk, expiry dates June 25, 26 and 27
  • Pauls Full Fat Cream Milk, expiry dates June 26 and 27
  • Pauls PhysiCAL Skim, expiry date June 27
  • Pauls PhysiCAL Low Fat, expiry date June 26
  • Pauls Rev Low Fat, expiry date June 28
  • Coles Lite Milk, expiry dates June 25 and 26
  • Coles Skim Milk, expiry date June 25
  • Coles Full Cream Milk, expiry dates June 25 and 26

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