NZ suspect donated money to French branch of far-right group

Brenton Tarrant, who is accused of attacking two mosques in Christchurch, donated funds to Generation Identity.

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    Tarrant has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder [Mark Mitchell via Reuters]
    Tarrant has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder [Mark Mitchell via Reuters]

    The man accused of attacking two mosques in New Zealand and shooting dead 50 worshippers donated more than 2,000 euros ($2,245) to the French far-right group Generation Identity (GI), according to reports in German and Austrian media.

    The reports say an official from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) briefed members of the country's Interior Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the suspect had made four transfers, totalling 2,200 euros ($2,469) between September 18 and 25, 2017. The information is said to come from the New Zealand government investigation into the attack.

    A spokesperson for GI France at first denied having received any money from the 28-year-old white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, who has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder for the March 15 attacks in Christchurch. 

    On Thursday afternoon, the spokesperson told AFP news agency that they had found two donations totalling 1,000 euros ($1,122) from Tarrant, and had passed this information onto authorities.

    Last week, Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Tarrant had donated 1,500 euros ($1,684) to the Austrian branch of the far-right group.

    GI is a pan-European far-right group which advocates for the expulsion of Europe's Muslims. Created in 2012 in France, it also has branches in Germany and Austria.

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    The links between GI and the alleged Christchurch attacker will bring further pressure on European governments to consider legal action against the movement. Earlier this week, the French government announced it will hold discussions on whether to proscribe the far-right group.

    GI was the subject of an Al Jazeera investigation, Generation Hate, broadcast last December. The two-part series used an undercover reporter to infiltrate the group. He witnessed violence and racist abuse by members at the GI branch in Lille, in northern France.

    Following the broadcast, Lille Mayor Martine Aubry expressed shock at the findings of the Al Jazeera investigation and called for the closure of GI's headquarters in the city.

    Charges have been filed against three far-right activists in connection with an assault filmed by the undercover reporter.

    The documentary shows Lille GI activist Remi Falize, wearing gloves reinforced with plastic, hitting a young woman four times on the head after she is heard using Arabic slang.

    Following the assault, Falize was filmed boasting about the attack and suggesting a racist motive. "Girl or not, they're just Arabs," he says.

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    The three men deny the charges and are due to appear in court on May 10.

    Growing calls for GI's dissolution

    GI has gained notoriety in France in recent years for its provocative stunts which seek to win the group media coverage.

    The group was launched in October 2012 with an occupation of a mosque under construction in the town of Poitiers. The activists unfurled a banner calling for a referendum on the construction of mosques.

    In the summer of 2017, GI activists chartered a boat in order to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy.

    In April 2018, French activists erected a fence along the Italian border on a snowy mountain pass to prevent migrants from entering France.

    Last Friday, GI activists occupied the roof of a government benefit's office in the Parisian suburb of Bobigny.

    As a result of this illegal action, France's Secretary to the Ministry of Health Christelle Dubos announced that she will soon be meeting with the country's interior and justice ministers, with a view to "dissolving this group".

    After spending several hours on the roof, 19 activists were arrested and will face charges of preventing the freedom to work.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News