WELLINGTON, New Zealand

Three crew members aboard a helicopter that crashed off the New Zealand coast while on route to attempt a medical evacuation from a fishing boat have been found alive on a remote island.

Rescue Coordination Centre duty manager Kevin Banaghan says the crew members were found Tuesday in their survival suits walking on a beach on uninhabited Auckland Island, some 500 kilometers (311 miles) southwest of Invercargill where they’d left from.

Banaghan says they don’t have all the details yet on what happened but the outcome is great news.

He says the final contact with the helicopter was at 7:37 p.m. Monday and it dropped from radar soon after. A P-3 Orion plane searched unsuccessfully for the helicopter overnight, before a fishing boat found a side door Tuesday.

Source: Fox News World

A naval commodore who served as New Zealand’s senior military attache to the United States has been found guilty of planting a hidden camera in a bathroom at the embassy in Washington.

A jury in the Auckland District Court deliberated for 4 1/2 hours on Thursday before finding Commodore Alfred Harold Keating guilty on a charge of attempting to make an intimate visual recording. He will be sentenced on June 25 and faces the possibility of up to three years in jail.

Judge Robert Ronayne told the jury there was no dispute that a camera was hidden in the embassy bathroom.

Keating resigned from the defense force after pleading not guilty in March, ending a 40-year career during which he became one of New Zealand’s most senior naval officers.

Source: Fox News World

New Zealand police on Wednesday released a detailed timeline of their response to the March 15 shootings that left 50 dead at two Christchurch mosques, confirming they arrested the suspected shooter 18 minutes after receiving the first emergency call.

Commissioner Mike Bush released the following second-by-second timeline, saying the New Zealand public should have as much information as possible about the police response:

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1:40 p.m. — A manifesto written by the gunman and detailing his plan for the shootings is received at New Zealand’s Parliament.

1:41 p.m. — Only 44 seconds after receiving the email, an official of Parliamentary Services phones the Southern Communications Center to alert police. The call lasts 12 minutes. “We now know that while police was talking to Parliamentary Services, the attack at Al Noor Mosque was already underway, having begun 44 seconds prior to Parliamentary Services calling,” Bush said.

1:43 p.m. — After receiving the first emergency call, police dispatch all available units to Al Noor Mosque.

1:46 p.m. — Officers from the police Armed Offenders Squad arrive near the mosque, leave their vehicles and approach the scene. One stops to assist a critically wounded victim. “At this point the alleged offender is leaving the area and his vehicle is obscured from the view of these AOS members by a bus,” Bush said. “At this time there is no vehicle description, no information an offender has left the mosque or how many shooters there are.”

1:51 p.m. — First responders arrive at the mosque.

1:52 p.m. — The gunman takes six minutes to drive to Linwood Mosque, where seven people are killed.

1:55 p.m. — The gunman leaves Linwood Mosque.

1:56 p.m. — A member of the public flags down a police car to advise shots had been fired in Linwood.

1:57 p.m. — The gunman’s vehicle is seen by police and pursued.

1:59 p.m. — The vehicle is stopped and the suspect arrested.

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“I reaffirm my previous comments that police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event and the information available to us in that very brief period of time,” Bush said.

He said while an investigation of the police response is continuing, the information released Wednesday was the best police had at present.

A 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.

“The investigation team continues to be focused on confirming certain details, particularly timings sourced from a number of electronic systems and devices with differing internal clocks,” Bush said.

He said New Zealand’s terrorist threat level has been reduced from high to medium.

Source: Fox News World

New Zealand’s government did not approve an aid agency’s decision to release the name of a New Zealand nurse held captive by the Islamic State group in Syria, the country’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said an International Committee of the Red Cross official’s claim to have acted with New Zealand’s agreement was “balderdash.” He said New Zealand opposed any steps that might endanger 62-year-old midwife and nurse Louisa Akavi or impede her location and release.

“That’s a very polite way of describing how one person has, in my view, dropped the ball so to speak,” Peters said.

The ICRC said it believed it had New Zealand’s support for its decision to allow the New York Times on Sunday to publish the name and nationality Akavi, who was taken prisoner in northwest Syria in 2013.

Ever since her capture, successive New Zealand governments and the ICRC maintained an agreement with international media to keep secret the nurse’s name and nationality.

New Zealand feared naming Akavi would make her a high profile captive, more likely to be executed by her captors for propaganda. More recently ISIS has vowed to avenge a March 15 attack that left 50 dead at two mosques in New Zealand and Akavi’s nationality could make her a target for retribution.

ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said he believed the agency had acted with New Zealand’s agreement.

“We would not have made that decision without the support of the New Zealand Government,” he said.

The aid group reasoned that with the collapse of the Islamic State group, naming Akavi would raise the chance of receiving news of her whereabouts and those of the two Syrian drivers kidnapped with her.

The agency said it had received information that Akavi may have been seen alive as recently as December.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday indicated her disappointment with the ICRC’s decision to release the nurse’s name and also said the government had not given its blessing to reveal that information.

Peters said he didn’t want to get engaged in a dispute with the ICRC and have the search for Akavi detoured by it.

He said New Zealand had shared information with the ICRC throughout Akavi’s captivity and there had been times when rescue teams had come close to the location at which she was being held.

“The fact of the matter is we went there looking for someone in the most extremely difficult, changing circumstances and we’ve never given up hope and we’re not giving up hope now,” he said.

Source: Fox News World

New Zealand’s government did not approve an aid agency’s decision to release the name of a New Zealand nurse held captive by the Islamic State group in Syria, the country’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said an International Committee of the Red Cross official’s claim to have acted with New Zealand’s agreement was “balderdash.” He said New Zealand opposed any steps that might endanger 62-year-old midwife and nurse Louisa Akavi or impede her location and release.

“That’s a very polite way of describing how one person has, in my view, dropped the ball so to speak,” Peters said.

The ICRC said it believed it had New Zealand’s support for its decision to allow the New York Times on Sunday to publish the name and nationality Akavi, who was taken prisoner in northwest Syria in 2013.

Ever since her capture, successive New Zealand governments and the ICRC maintained an agreement with international media to keep secret the nurse’s name and nationality.

New Zealand feared naming Akavi would make her a high profile captive, more likely to be executed by her captors for propaganda. More recently ISIS has vowed to avenge a March 15 attack that left 50 dead at two mosques in New Zealand and Akavi’s nationality could make her a target for retribution.

ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said he believed the agency had acted with New Zealand’s agreement.

“We would not have made that decision without the support of the New Zealand Government,” he said.

The aid group reasoned that with the collapse of the Islamic State group, naming Akavi would raise the chance of receiving news of her whereabouts and those of the two Syrian drivers kidnapped with her.

The agency said it had received information that Akavi may have been seen alive as recently as December.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday indicated her disappointment with the ICRC’s decision to release the nurse’s name and also said the government had not given its blessing to reveal that information.

Peters said he didn’t want to get engaged in a dispute with the ICRC and have the search for Akavi detoured by it.

He said New Zealand had shared information with the ICRC throughout Akavi’s captivity and there had been times when rescue teams had come close to the location at which she was being held.

“The fact of the matter is we went there looking for someone in the most extremely difficult, changing circumstances and we’ve never given up hope and we’re not giving up hope now,” he said.

Source: Fox News World

Six people have appeared in a New Zealand court on charges they illegally redistributed the livestreamed footage of a gunman shooting worshippers at two mosques last month.

Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll denied bail on Monday to businessman Philip Arps, 44, and an 18-year-old suspect who both were taken into custody last month. The four others are not in custody.

Arps is charged with supplying or distributing objectionable material, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. He is scheduled to next appear in court via video link on April 26.

The 18-year-old suspect is charged with sharing the livestream video and a still image of the Al Noor mosque with the words “target acquired.” He will reappear in court on July 31.

Source: Fox News World

New Zealand’s foreign minister has confirmed a New Zealand nurse has been held captive by the Islamic State group in Syria for almost six years, information long kept secret for fear her life might be at risk.

The status of nurse and midwife Louisa Akavi, now 62, is unknown but her employer, the International Committee of the Red Cross, says it has received recent eyewitness reports suggesting she might be alive.

The New York Times on Sunday became the first media organization to name Akavi, ending a more than 5 ½-year news blackout imposed by the New Zealand government and Red Cross with the cooperation of international media.

The collapse of ISIS has raised hopes Akavi and two Syrian drivers kidnapped with her might now be discovered.

Source: Fox News World

New Zealand’s governor general has formally signed into effect sweeping gun laws outlawing military style weapons, less than a month after a man used such guns to kill 50 people and wound dozens at two mosques in Christchurch.

Governor General Patsy Reddy signed the bill Thursday as police said a buyback program will be announced to collect the now-banned weapons. The weapons will be illegal starting at midnight, but police said an amnesty will be in effect until details of the buyback are announced.

The House of Representatives passed the legislation by a final vote of 119 to 1 Wednesday. Anyone who retains such a weapon now faces a penalty of up to five years in prison. Exemptions allow heirloom weapons or those used for professional pest control.

Source: Fox News World

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has named a sitting Supreme Court justice to head New Zealand’s top level investigation into the actions of security agencies and other issues related to the mosque shootings last month in which 50 people were killed.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry will look into the gunman’s activities before the attack, including how he obtained a gun license in New Zealand and purchased weapons and ammunition, and his use of social media and possible connections with others in New Zealand or overseas.

“The Government will ensure no stone is left unturned as we examine as quickly as possible how the March 15 attack happened, what could have been done to stop it and how we can keep New Zealanders safe,” Ardern said Monday in announcing the terms of the inquiry. “The Royal Commission plays a critical role in our ongoing response to fully understand what happened in the lead-up to the attack and to ensure such an attack never happens again.”

The commission led by Sir William Young will have a budget of 8.2 million New Zealand dollars ($5.5 million) and will be expected to report its findings to the government by Dec. 10.

Ardern praised Young as having the extensive experience and skills required to lead the inquiry. “I am confident that in his nearly nine years as a judge on our highest bench, Justice Young has the judgment, clarity and care to do the job, with a sound understanding of intelligence issues and experience working in the public eye.”

The commission will examine the actions of agencies including the Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau, New Zealand Police, customs and immigration, including what they knew about the gunman before the attack, what they did in response and what they could have done to prevent the attack.

It will question whether security agencies properly prioritized the use of their counter-terrorism resources. Critics have alleged the agencies focused on possible Islamic extremism but did not give enough priority to white extremism.

An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, livestreamed the shootings and released an online manifesto in which he described planning the attacks at the two mosques in Christchurch. He was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 of attempted murder and was ordered last week to undergo mental health assessments before his next court appearance in June.

A royal commission is the country’s highest form of investigation and is run independently from the government. The commission has the power to compel witnesses to testify and organizations to hand over documents. But it remains up to the courts or government to follow through on any recommendations or findings.

Source: Fox News World

The Latest on the man charged in the New Zealand mosque attacks (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Police say the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges at his court appearance on Friday.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant had been charged with one count of murder after his arrest the day of the March 15 massacre.

Fifty people were killed in the two mosques and dozens of others were shot and wounded.

Tarrant won’t be required to enter a plea on Friday.

The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant’s legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.

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3:30 p.m.

The man accused in the Christchurch mosque attacks is due to make his second court appearance via video link on Friday although media photographs and reporting on the proceedings will be limited by New Zealand law.

Fifty people died in the March 15 attacks on two mosques.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, has been charged with one count of murder, and police plan to file more charges. Tarrant won’t be required to enter a plea on Friday. The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant’s legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.

New Zealand tightly restricts what can be reported about upcoming court cases to avoid tainting the views of potential jurors.

Source: Fox News World


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