- The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane appeared in court in New Zealand on Monday, though he cannot be named publicly.
- The suspect’s lawyer argues that his name must be kept secret to grant him a fair trial.
- The judge in the case is trying to overturn the ban on naming him, but it remains in force until the appeal can be heard.
- Millane had been missing since December 1, and police said on Saturday that they were charging the man with her murder.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologised to Millane’s family. She said: “Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.”
A man accused of murdering 22-year-old backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand has appeared in court, but local law means that it is illegal for him to be named in the media.
Grace Millane, from the town of Wickford in southeastern England, was last seen in a hotel in the city of Auckland on Saturday, December 1.
Police had been interviewing a 26-year-old man in connection with her disappearance and said on Saturday, December 8 that they would charge him with her murder.
The man’s name has been suppressed after a request from his lawyer, Ian Brookie, Sky News reported. Brookie argued that anonymity was needed for a fair trial.
The New Zealand Herald newspaper published this photograph of the accused, in which his face is pixelated to comply with the ban:
— nzherald (@nzherald) December 10, 2018
The judge in the case, Evangelos Thomas, rejected the request. But Brookie is appealing, and the ban on naming him remains in force until the appeal can be heard.
A body was found
Thomas addressed Millane’s family in court on Monday morning: “Before we call this matter I’d like to acknowledge the presence of Grace’s family. I don’t know what we say to you at this time. Your grief must be desperate.”
He said that there will be no judgment on Monday, though he said he hoped that “justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace,” Radio NZ reported.
“There will be in all likelihood a number of procedural issues we need to deal with today. Those are all part and parcel of a process that has judgment as its end goal, not its starting point.”
Court documents showed that the man had been living at the Citylife Hotel on Queen Street in Auckland, which is where Millane was last seen, BBC News reported.
Police discovered a body in their search and said in a statement that there had been no formal identification but was believed to be Millane’s.
New Zealand apologised
According to the BBC, Millane had been in New Zealand for around two weeks after finishing up a six-week group trip to South America. She had been travelling around the world after finishing her studies at the University of Lincoln.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologised to Millane’s family.
“On behalf of New Zealand, I would like to apologise to Grace’s family, your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that,” she said.
“From the Kiwis I have spoken to there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality … especially to those who are visiting our shores.”
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