Christchurch terror attack: Judge urged to shut down alleged gunman's ravings

Justice Minister Andrew Little says it'll be the judge's call whether the Christchurch terror suspect will be allowed to talk about his ideology in court, and if the media can report it.

The alleged gunman will next appear in court in April, where he's expected to face numerous charges relating to the attacks last week which left 50 people dead.

Experts have predicted he'll plead not guilty, and represent himself so he can use the trial to spread his views - much like Norwegian far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik did in 2011.

The suspect in the Christchurch terror attack, and Anders Breivik.
The suspect in the Christchurch terror attack, and Anders Breivik. Photo credit: Newshub/Reuters

"We're going to hear a lot more about this gentleman and probably from this gentleman, and also about his ideology, before this is over," Massey University law professor Chris Gallivan told The AM Show on Monday morning.

"We have to ensure the victims are protected through that and that it is not a platform to be able to extol his worldview. But if he self-represents, the courts probably will struggle to stop him using this as a platform."

Little, appearing on The AM Show on Thursday, said it's important the alleged killer gets a fair trial.

"It is important. It's an essential part of our values," he said.

"I don't think we should abandon our values and stoop to [his] level in the absence of any values or treasuring of humanity that this person represents. We should stick to what we believe in and what's important to us."

But it'll be up to the judge how much the public will get to see. While trials are usually open to the public and media, judges are allowed to ban both in extreme cases, or at least ban the media from reporting some details.

"The judge will decide... what happens and what suppression orders apply," said Little.

"There will be security issues for any trial. This chap is one of the most dangerous we've ever had in our prison and our justice system, so those things will have to be taken account of.

"But there has to be a trial. We want to see convictions secured - that's why the police are working so hard to ensure all the evidence is right, gathered correctly, and that we don't miss a trick there. The judge and the judiciary will decide how the trial is managed."

Andrew Little.
Andrew Little. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he'd like an open trial, but the judge shouldn't hesitate to shut the suspect down "any time this man starts to rave about his ideology".

"You can't close the trial - you've got to have an open system of justice," Goff told The AM Show.

"I can't advise a judge, they're totally independent, but... these guys are after the fame, the celebrity, the notoriety - that's what motivates them. Deny him that."

Goff echoed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's statement that she'll never speak his name.

"Don't show his face and don't mention his name."

Publication of his image in New Zealand has already been outlawed by the courts. The Chief Censor has ruled his video of the massacre objectionable, so possession, sharing or broadcast of its contents is against the law.