Australia massacre video renews old pain

SYDNEY — Australian police on Thursday condemned the posting online of a graphic police video of the aftermath of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre when a gunman killed 35 people, saying it reopened old wounds.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 28 Jul 2011, 11:21 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:22 PM

The shootings, Australia’s deadliest crime, shocked the nation and sparked a massive gun buyback by the then-conservative government, with the lone killer Martin Bryant handed 35 life sentences.

Friday’s deadly shooting spree on Norway’s Utoeya island brought back memories of Bryant’s crime for many Australians, particularly residents of Port Arthur, the small historic settlement on Tasmania where it took place.

Their pain was compounded by graphic police footage of the massacre’s aftermath on YouTube and Facebook, Deputy Tasmanian Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said Thursday.

‘It is highly distressing not only for the families of the victims, but for the community, for these images to be available on the internet,’ said Tilyard.

‘Family and friends of the victims, as well as emergency service personnel and others who have been affected by Port Arthur, shouldn’t have to re-live this trauma again. Posting this vision on the internet causes them extra and unnecessary trauma,’ he added.

Showing bullet-ridden victims and their wounds, the footage was shot as evidence and later used in a police training video for local and international forces who ‘had never before dealt with an incident of this scale and nature’, said Tilyard.

It was unclear how the film made its way into the public domain but a man who was found selling copies of it at a public market in 2004 claimed to have found it at a garbage tip.

‘Unfortunately, since unauthorised copies were made many years ago, it is all but impossible to ensure that these images are not posted and circulated via internet-based technologies,’ the commissioner said.

The footage was first noticed online in February and police had it taken down, a spokeswoman for the force said, but it appeared to have been uploaded again in April.

Tilyard said Tasmanian police had contacted sites hosting the video to request that it be removed and an investigation was underway into its source.

Victims and witnesses had been also been contacted, he added.

Port Arthur officials this week sent a letter of condolence to the Norwegian ambassador expressing ‘solidarity, sympathy and loving support’ and noting parallels between the Australian and Utoeya shootings.

‘The personal grief caused by last Friday’s atrocity will long be remembered as a terrible example of human cruelty, arrogance, violence and narcissism,’ the community wrote.

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