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September 16, 2019
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Royal Commission begins judicial probe into Christchurch mosques attack  

CHRISTCHURCH: A Royal Commission set up by New Zealand government has started a judicial inquiry into the Christchurch mosques attack.

The commission is inquiring whether New Zealand’s police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks in which 51 worshippers died.

The commission started collecting evidence on Monday.

The royal commission — the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law — will examine events leading up to the March 15 attack in which a lone gunman opened fire on two mosques in a mass shooting that shocked the world.

“This is a critical part of our ongoing response to the attack — the commission’s findings will help to ensure such an attack never happens here again,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand’s spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from militants while underestimating the danger posed by right-wing extremism.

The Christchurch victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was a plot to “invade” Western countries.

The commission is jointly headed by Supreme Court judge William Young and former diplomat Jacqui Caine.