Everything you need to know about the first High Court appearance of the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Media have been barred from filming and photographing the alleged Christchurch terrorist at his next court appearance.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant's case is due to be called in the High Court at Christchurch on Fridayafter his first appearance in the District Court on March 16.

A day earlier, on March 15, 50 people were killed at the city's Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Dozens more were wounded.


The High Court received 12 applications from both New Zealand media and foreign organisations to film, take photographs, or make audio recordings at Friday's hearing.

But Justice Cameron Mander declined the applications.

In a minute issued to the media this week, he said factors in making his decision to refuse the requests were to preserve the integrity of the trial process and ensure a fair trial.

Journalists will, however, be permitted to remain in the courtroom and take notes, while newspapers and broadcasters are still able to use images of the accused which were taken at the District Court hearing.

But those images will remain pixelated after an order by Judge Paul Kellar for the defendant's face to be blurred in any published images. The order will remain in force until further ruling by a judge.

Will the accused be in court in person on Friday?

No. The 28-year-old accused terrorist was remanded in custody at his first appearance and has since been held at New Zealand's only maximum security prison in Paremoremo, Auckland.

Justice Mander ruled the accused will appear in court on Friday via audio-visual link from prison instead.

This is not an uncommon practice - people appear in courts all across New Zealand everyday by way of a television screen.


What will happen? Will he enter a plea?

The accused will not be required to enter pleas either to the single murder charge he currently faces or to any other charges which are expected to be laid by the Crown.

It is anticipated he will be charged with 49 more counts of murder and dozens of attempted murder charges.

There is also the possibility the Crown will seek to try him under the seldom-used Terrorism Suppression Act, which was introduced after the September 11 US terrorist attacks.

The alleged gunman first appeared in the Christchurch District Court on March 16. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The alleged gunman first appeared in the Christchurch District Court on March 16. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Section five of the legislation defines what a terrorist act is.

It states that it must be intended to cause death or destruction in one or more countries, be carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political or religious cause, and intended to induce terror in a civilian population or compel a government to act.

Prosecutors would require the consent of the Solicitor-General to lay terror charges against the accused.

The purpose of the hearing on Friday will be to determine the alleged killer's legal representation status and to receive information from the Crown.

The Herald earlier reported the Australian man will represent himself in court.

Friday's hearing will also be largely procedural, with timetabling and future dates allocated by the judge.

Will the hearing be open to the public?

Justice Mander has ruled that because the hearing will be primarily procedural and administrative, much of it will take place with the court sitting in chambers.

This will mean members of the public will not be allowed into the courtroom during this time. Only the judge, lawyers, defendant, court security, police officer in charge of the case and media are permitted to stay.

Under the Criminal Procedure Act any New Zealand judge also has the power to clear their court of the public. This most often occurs in cases when a complainant gives evidence in trials of a sexual nature.

The judge has the ability to exclude people when it is necessary to avoid undue disruption to the proceedings.

Other reasons to close the court include; a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial, endangering the safety of any person, prejudicing the maintenance of the law - including the prevention, investigation and detection of offences - and when a suppression order is not sufficient to avoid that risk.

A judge can further clear their court if they believe it will avoid prejudicing the security or defence of New Zealand. This is the only type of order which also forces members of the media to leave.

Those allowed to remain in court regardless of any of order are a jury, prosecutor, the defendant, any lawyer engaged in the proceedings, an officer of the court, and the police officer in charge of the case.

The alleged terrorist's first appearance in the District Court was closed to the public.