Official inquiry into Christchurch attacks released: Timeline

The Royal Commission was tasked with investigating whether the attacks in which 51 died could have been prevented.

A woman cries next to a tribute to victim Hussein Al-Umari outside Al-Noor mosque after it was reopened in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 23, 2019
New Zealand on Tuesday released the official inquiry into the 2019 attacks on two Christchurch mosques [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]

New Zealand has released the report of a Royal Commission inquiry into the shootings at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019 in which 51 people were killed and many injured as they gathered for Friday prayers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern commissioned the inquiry shortly after the attacks to investigate whether anything could have been done to prevent the atrocity and what should be done to ensure no similar attacks occur in future. The final report was delayed by the coronavirus outbreak.

In August, the gunman, Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, was sentenced to a life term without parole, the first time a judge in New Zealand had sent a convict to prison for the rest of their life.

Here is a timeline of events:

March 15, 2019

A heavily armed gunman attacks two mosques in Christchurch killing 51 Muslim men, women and children and injuring many more who had gathered for Friday prayers. He is apprehended by police while on his way to a third mosque.

March 16, 2019

Australian national Brenton Tarrant is charged with one count of murder at a Christchurch court. He is remanded without a plea.

March 25, 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern orders a royal commission, a major formal public inquiry, into the shooting. It will look at whether anything could have done to prevent this attack and at what should be done to prevent such attacks in the future.

March 26, 2020

Tarrant switches his plea to guilty.

April 5, 2019

Tarrant is charged with 49 more counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.

April 10, 2019

Legislators in New Zealand vote almost unanimously to change gun laws, banning some of the high-capacity semi-automatic weapons used by Tarrant in the attack.

April 22, 2020

The Royal Commission report deadline is extended to July 31, allowing for delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A week before that deadline, it is extended again – until November 26.

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The Imam of the Al Noor mosque Gamal Fouda (right) and Tu Tangata motorcycle club president Derek Tait exchange a hongi outside the mosque in Christchurch following the attacks in March 2019 [Mark Baker/AP Photo]

May 21, 2019

New Zealand police charge Tarrant with terrorism, the first time such a charge has been brought in the country’s history.

June 14, 2019

Tarrant pleads not guilty to all 92 charges.

August 24, 2020

The gunman goes on trial at a Christchurch court, with many families of the victims seeing Tarrant in person for the first time.

Noraini Abbas Milne (right), mother of 14-year-old mosque shooting victim, Sayyad, makes her victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for the gunman in August [John Kirk-Anderson/Pool Photo via AP Photo]

August 27, 2020

Judge hands Tarrant a life sentence without parole, the first time a court in New Zealand has sentenced a person to prison for the rest of their life.

November 26, 2020

Royal commission hands its final report to Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. The government says it will release it in parliament on December 8.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters