The coronial process
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- The role of the coroner
- Coronial inquiries and coronial inquests
- Why has there not yet been a coronial inquiry for the masjid attacks?
Coroners are like judges.They are qualified lawyers appointed as judicial officers to investigate unexpected, violent or suspicious deaths to find out what happened.
Coroners look at and decide the facts about certain things to do with a person’s death, including:
- that a person has died
- who the person was
- when and where the person died
- how the person died
- the circumstances around the death.
A coroner may:
- start an inquiry to investigate a death, and to find out the cause and circumstances of that death; and
- make recommendations and comments that may help to prevent similar deaths in the future.
A coroner cannot start an inquiry to decide on civil, criminal, or disciplinary liability. This is because the powers that a coroner has are defined under New Zealand law, in the Coroners Act 2006.
For more information, see:
A coronial inquiry is a process to find out the facts of a death. A coronial inquiry does not decide who is guilty for causing a death.
If a coroner believes they need more evidence to find out the facts of a death, they can hold a hearing in court. This is called a coronial inquest. At a coronial inquest, a coroner will hear from witnesses and consider evidence.
A coroner might not hold a formal coronial inquest if they believe they have all the evidence they need. In this case, they will still hold a hearing, but it won't be held in court and witnesses won't give evidence.
If a person has been charged with a criminal offence in relation to a death, a coroner may decide not to begin a coronial inquiry. They may decide to wait until after a criminal trial or court case has finished, and other evidence has been heard, to begin a coronial inquiry.
After a court case, a coroner might not begin an inquiry. They may decide that the evidence already provided has given them all the information they need to make their decision.
In the case of the masjid attacks, it has been confirmed that 51 people died. Their identities, and the time and place of their deaths, have also been confirmed.
The Chief Coroner is considering whether further investigation is needed and what the next steps will be.