Royal Commission to probe Christchurch attacks

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry to analyse security agencies and look into the sole suspect of the March 15 Christchurch attacks that left 50 people dead in two mosques.

“While New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world are both grieving and showing compassion for one another, they are also quite rightly asking questions on how this terror attack was able to happen here,” Ardern told the media.

“The inquiry will look at what could have or should have been done to prevent the attack. It will inquire into the individual and his activities before the terrorist attack, including a look at agencies.”

The investigation will focus on the actions of the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Service, the Government Communications Security Bureau, Police, Customs, Immigration and any other relevant government department or agency, reports Efe news.

“There will be a focus on whether our intelligence community was concentrating its resources appropriately and whether there were any reports that could or should have alerted them to this attack,” Ardern said.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry is normally reserved for the gravest matters of public importance.

Ardern also said she will meet Microsoft President Brad Smith on Monday to discuss the role of social media following the massacres that the suspect live streamed on Facebook for 17 minutes and was shared across multiple platforms.

Last week she announced that a national remembrance service will be held on March 29 to pay tribute to the victims of Christchurch’s Al Noor and Linwood mosques.

The suspect, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, apparently had no criminal record nor problems with his neighbours in Dunedin, a town about 360 km south of Christchurch.

Tarrant obtained a gun license in November 2017.

Ardern said after the attacks that the shooter had legally acquired five guns, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, which appeared to have been modified.

Tarrant is due to appear in court on April 5 charged with one count of murder, although more charges are expected. He has chosen to represent himself.