New Zealander Philip Arps faces 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to sharing Christchurch mosque shooting video online
Philip Arps, a businessman from Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday pleaded guilty to sharing a live stream video which was recorded by the white supremacist gunman who opened fire inside two mosques, killing 50 people and injuring several others.
Arps pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the mosque video and will continue to remain in prison till he is sentenced on June 14. Reports state that he faces a maximum penalty of 14 years of imprisonment.
The 44-year-old was accused by prosecutors of sending the controversial video to an unknown person and instructing the person to include a kill count and crosshairs. According to prosecutors, Arps forwarded the 17-minute chilling video to at least 30 associates, according to an ABC News report.
The New Zealand mosque shootings on March 15 left 50 people dead and dozens injured. The attacker was identified as Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist who was apprehended and later charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.
The shooter, a former personal trainer, stormed into two mosques in Christchurch with multiple high-powered weapons and live streamed the assault. He had posted a racist "manifesto" explaining the motivations of his attack. The massacre — New Zealand's deadliest ever — is believed to be the single-worst terrorist attack carried out by an Australian.
New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks reportedly banned both the video and a manifesto written by Tarrant, making it illegal to view, possess or distribute the disturbing content.
The shooter reportedly worked as a personal trainer at a gym in Grafton after he finished school. He later traveled overseas to Asia and Europe and used the money he made from Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency, to fund his travels. He did not apply for bail or for the suppression of his name at a court appearance following his arrest on March 16. He also made a white power gesture as he was brought into the court.
Shortly after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a powerful statement vowed immediate action, particularly on the nation's gun laws. She also urged residents to give up and surrender their semi-automatic weapons through a voluntary amnesty, saying "To make our community safer, the time to act is now." The shooter had a gun license that allowed him to obtain multiple assault weapons legally. The prime minister also said that security officers would be stationed at all mosques in the country.