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Mosque inquest to begin

Mosque inquest to begin
Flowers outside the Ashburton Masjid after the fatal attacks in Christchurch in March 2019. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

A six-week inquest into the devastating 2019 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch gets underway today.

The March 15 mass shootings at the at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre left 51 people dead, another 40 shot, and many more injured or traumatised.

Ashburton’s Masjid was later revealed as a third target for Australian gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

However, the 29-year-old white supremacist was captured by police on Brougham Street before he could leave Christchurch.

Senior Constable Jim Manning, a former Ashburton police officer, and Senior Constable Scott Carmody put their lives on the line to apprehend Tarrant as he tried to flee with an arsenal of weapons in his Subaru Outback.

Tarrant, an Australian citizen, was sentenced to a life in prison without the option of parole on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder, and one of terrorism in August 2020. Last November he filed an appeal against his conviction.

Coroner Brigitte Windley will lead the public hearings into the emergency response after the attack.

The inquest, which follows the criminal investigation and prosecution and a Royal Commission of Inquiry, will examine the emergency response in the aftermath of the attacks and look at what improvements could be made.

The inquest is set to consider ten issues. This includes the events on March 15 from the start of the attack to the attacker's formal police interview, the response times by police and ambulance officers, the triage and medical response at each mosque, the co-ordination between emergency services and first responders, and the role Christchurch Hospital played in responding to the attack.

The coroner will also be consider whether an emergency exit door in the in the south-east corner of the main prayer room of the Al Noor mosque's main prayer room failed to function and why.

Other areas covered by the inquest include the steps taken to apprehend Tarrant and whether he had assistance during the attack, as well as whether any deaths could have been averted using a different medical triage and response.

By Sharon Davis