A New Zealand court sentenced a man to nearly two years in jail on Tuesday for sharing a video of the terrorist attack at a Mosque in Christchurch in March.
Philip Arps, 44, was sentenced to 21 months in prison at a court in Christchurch on Tuesday, having previously pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing objectionable material.
The attack, live-streamed on social media, saw the self-described “ethno-nationalist” Brenton Tarrant murder 51 people and injure dozens more at Christchurch Mosque during Friday prayers.
Soon after the attack, New Zealand’s Office of Film and Literature classified the video as “objectionable,” making it a criminal offense to possess, share, or host it. Those found guilty doing so can face up to 14 years in jail.
According to RNZ, Arps sent footage of the attack to around 30 people, even asking an unknown individual to add cross-hairs and a body count to “make it more fun.” During sentencing on Tuesday, District Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said that Arps had described the video as “awesome.”
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred,” District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said. “It is clear from all the material before me that you have strong and unrepentant views towards the Muslim community.”
“Your actions in distributing the day after the attack, when families were still waiting to hear whether family members had been killed, demonstrates particular cruelty on your part and callousness on your part,” he continued
Similar to Brenton Tarrant, Arps reportedly identified himself as a white supremacist and held virulently strong views against the country’s Muslim population.
According to court documents, Arps had previously been charged with “offensive behavior” in 2016 and fined 800 New Zealand dollars ($543) after he dumped a bloodied pig’s head outside Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque, one of the two mosques that Tarrant targeted. The dumping of a pig is considered especially offensive to Muslims, as pork is considered haram or forbidden under Islamic law.
Arps’ lawyer, Anselm Williams, argued for leniency, saying that his client was facing a tougher sentence on the grounds of his extremist beliefs.
“It’s my submission that this court needs to be very careful to sentence Mr. Arps based on what it is that he has actually done, and what he accepts he has done, not on the basis of the views that he holds,” Williams said.
Tarrant faces 92 separate charges in relation to the shootings at Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre back in March, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand in modern times. This week, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and will face trial in May next year.