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Fake Christchurch victims seek NZ$17k

Sou-Jie van Brunnersum
June 28, 2019

New Zealand police have raised concerns over people faking their presence at two deadly mosque shootings in March. More than NZ$7 million has been paid out to survivors by local victims' funds so far.

Flowers are seen in front of a police cordon at Linwood mosque
Image: Getty Images/K. Schwoerer

Christchurch police have issued warnings to two people who police say falsely claimed they were present during the mosque shooting attacks in March to each claim NZ$17,000 (€10,000, $11,400) in compensation.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, police confirmed that the two unidentified people falsely claimed they were present at the shootings in the Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre. Fifty-one people were killed in the attacks and a further 49 were injured.

"Some individuals thought they may qualify as victims because they were nearby, but were actually witnesses, as outlined in the Victim of Offences Act," police said.

It remains unclear whether the two individuals misunderstood the distinction or had deliberately made false claims.

Millions paid out

Police said there had been "some concerns" about people trying to "illegitimately" access the city's victim fund, Victims Support Christchurch, which began distributing its final payments on Thursday.

Read more: New Zealand launches post-mosque attack gun buyback scheme

According to local media, Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said that more than NZ$7 million has already been paid out in the "emergency phase."

Police officer stands in front of a Christchurch mosque
Police are warning New Zealanders against making false claims for financial benefitsImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Baker

Victim Support revealed on Thursday that additional payments will be provided to victims, with the increased funding coming to a total of NZ$95,000.

Furthermore, more anonymous donors and corporations have come forward, donating a further NZ$4 million to the Christchurch Foundation and bringing the total to NZ$10 million.

Survivor meets minister

One man hailed as a hero of the mosque attacks, Abdul Aziz, on Friday met with Megan Woods, the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister to express concerns over how donated money has been distributed, according to New Zealand media.

Aziz, who had chased the gunman away from the Linwood mosque, raised questions over Victim Support's transparency and Muslim groups such as The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

Aziz said that the way money had been distributed after the attacks disturbed and divided his community. "[Victims] are already going through a lot, don't put them through more," he said.

After their meeting, Woods said she would share concerns about Muslim groups with the Office of Ethnic Communities and the "wider community."

Muslims praying in Hagley Park, Christchurch
Hailed Christchurch hero Abdul Aziz says that donation money for the March attacks has divided the local communityImage: AFP/M. Melville

Woods elaborated that donation concerns are "outside the scope of when government would get involved," but she told Aziz that registered charities such as Victim Support were audited every year.

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