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New Zealand man pleads guilty to spreading video of mosque attacks

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Armed police patrol in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15 after a gunman attacked two mosques. File Photo by Martin Hunter/EPA-EFE
Armed police patrol in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15 after a gunman attacked two mosques. File Photo by Martin Hunter/EPA-EFE

April 26 (UPI) -- A New Zealand businessman pleaded guilty Friday to criminal charges stemming from his spreading footage of the Christchurch mosque attacks online.

Philip Neville Arps entered the plea in court, where he'd been charged with distributing video of the mosque shootings taken by the accused gunman. Fifty people died in the March 15 attacks at two mosques.

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Prosecutors said Arps, 44, had asked for the video to be modified with a rising "kill count" as people were shot -- and cross hairs so it would look like viewers were looking through a rifle scope.

When police asked Arps about sharing the content, which violates New Zealand's Films, Videos and Publications Classifications Act, he said, "I could not give a (expletive)." He also told police he had no sympathy for the victims.

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Arps admitted to sharing the video with about 30 people and asking that it be modified into a meme.

When the judge asked him about sharing the video, he said: "Shared that news ... yes. Guilty." He could spend as many as 14 years in jail. Arps was also fined $800 and must pay court costs of $130.

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Arps owns Beneficial Insulation, a Christchurch business with Nazi-style themes in the name and branding.

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New Zealand prosecutors have charged five others with sharing the gunman's livestream.

Arps has previous convictions for dumping a bloody pig's head outside a mosque and other behavior.

The accused shooter, Australian Brenton Tarrant, is charged with the attacks and must undergo mental health evaluations to determine whether he is fit for trial.

RELATED 6 charged with sharing images of New Zealand mosque attacks

The Islamic State terror group said this week it retaliated for the Christchurch attacks by sending suicide bombers to blow up three churches and three hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka last Sunday. More than 250 people died in the coordinated strikes. So far, 58 people have been detained in connection with the Sri Lanka bombings.

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