A Christchurch businessman who shared a video of worshippers being slaughtered at a New Zealand mosque has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Philip Arps had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the video, which was livestreamed on Facebook by a gunman on March 15 as he began killing 51 people at two mosques. He was charged with sharing the footage.
Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said that when questioned about the video, Arps had described it as “awesome” and showed no empathy toward the victims. The judge said Arps had strong and unrepentant views about the Muslim community, and had compared himself to Rudolf Hess, a Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler.
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred,” the judge said.
O’Driscoll said Arps had sent the video to 30 associates. The judge said Arps also asked somebody to insert crosshairs and include a kill count in order to create an internet meme, although there was no evidence he’d shared the meme.
Arps’ lawyer Anselm Williams told the judge that Arps should not be sent to prison.
“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.
After the hearing, Williams said Arps had filed an appeal against his sentence at the High Court, but declined to comment further.
Arps’ sentencing comes days after the suspected gunman, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant,to 92 charges related to the mass shooting. If Tarrant does not change his plea, his trial is set to begin in May 2020. His next hearing will be Aug. 15.
has helped lead a global pledge named the “Christchurch Call,” aimed at boosting efforts to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks. New Zealand has also tightened its gun laws and banned certain types of semi-automatic weapons since the attack.