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New Zealand PM Vows to Never Speak the Name of Accused Mosque Gunman

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with Muslim community leaders after the Parliament session in Wellington, March 19, 2019.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with Muslim community leaders after the Parliament session in Wellington, March 19, 2019.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is urging lawmakers to join her in never uttering the name of the man accused of killing 50 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques last Friday.

During an emotional address before Parliament Tuesday, Prime Minister Ardern said the suspected gunman “is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist, but he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

“I implore you: Speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” Ardern said.

Authorities have accused 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harris Tarrant of committing the horrific attack. He is the only person in custody linked to the killings and has been charged with murder.

Tarrant has not yet entered a plea. Media reports say he has refused a lawyer and will represent himself in court proceedings. His next court appearance is April 5.

Prime Minister Ardern said her government will launch an inquiry into whether the country’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies missed any signs about Tarrant and his intentions.She also expressed her frustrations about U.S.-based social media giant Facebook for allowing Tarrant to livestream the attack, as well as the fact that the footage was still online four days later.

“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and what is said is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” Ardern said in her speech to parliament.“They are the publisher, not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

Facebook says it removed 1.5 million versions of the video of the massacre in during the first 24 hours after the attack.

Ardern has said she was one of more than 30 recipients of a 74-page white nationalist manifesto emailed by Tarrant nine minutes before his alleged attacks. In the manifesto, Tarrant allegedly denounced Muslims and called immigrants "invaders."

Meanwhile, relatives of the dead are anxiously for awaiting authorities to release their bodies so they can bury their loved ones.The prime minister said Monday the bodies of all 50 victims will be returned to their families by Wednesday for burial as soon as possible in accordance with Muslim tradition.

She said that six disaster victim identification experts have flown in from Australia to help in the identification process.

About 60 volunteers, some who have traveled from Australia, are helping with the ritual cleansing of the victims before burial.

The names of the victims have not been made public, although a preliminary list has been shared with relatives.

Thirty people remain hospitalized in the Christchurch hospital, nine of them in critical condition.A 4-year-old child in critical condition has been transferred to a hospital in Auckland for further treatment.

Prime Minister Ardern said Monday she will reveal the decisions her Cabinet members have reached about reforming New Zealand’s gun laws within the following days.

Mass shootings and violent crime are rare in New Zealand, a country of nearly five million people. Until Friday, the country's worst mass shooting was in 1990, when a gunman killed 13 people in the small town of Aramoana.

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