Philip Arps was sentenced in a New Zealand court today for sharing video of the Christchurch massacre, a terrorist attack on two mosques that killed 51 people on March 15. Arps, who has compared himself favourably to Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess, pleaded guilty to two counts of sharing the video and received a sentence of 21 months in prison for sending it to roughly 30 people.
Arps told the judge overseeing his case that video of the bloody massacre was “awesome,” according to New Zealand news outlet RNZ and he even asked one person to add crosshairs and a body count graphic to “make it more fun.”
Dead children are plainly visible among the many bodies of victims in the video.
The terrorist attack was livestreamed on Facebook for 17 minutes before being taken down by the social media giant, but the video circulated online for days as companies like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube scrambled to delete it.
New Zealand’s top government censor quickly moved to classify the Christchurch video as “objectionable” in the wake of the terrorist shootings allegedly committed by Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian national who pleaded not guilty to the murders last week.
New Zealand has a common law tradition of free expression, but the government can declare certain controversial materials as illegal to own and distribute.
The 44-year-old Arps owns a business called Beneficial Insulation that uses various Nazi imagery on its vehicles and charges $22 per square metre for the installation of insulation.
The 14 refers to the so-called “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan, and the 88 refers to “Heil Hitler” because H is the 8th letter in the alphabet. Both numbers are commonly used by neo-Nazis as a code.
Beneficial Insulation’s website, BIIG.co.nz, is supposedly an acronym for the company’s name, but also refers to the BIIg barracks used by Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp where at least 1.1 million people were killed. The BIIG.co.nz domain is no longer active, though it’s unclear if it was shut down by Arps or the New Zealand government.
In 2016 Arps also helped delivered a pig’s head to the Al Noor mosque, one of the two mosques where dozens died in March.
Arps reportedly shouted “white power” and “bring on the cull” at the mosque while giving Nazi salutes in a video that has since been deleted from the internet. Arps was fined $US800 ($1,168) over that incident.
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred,” Judge O’Driscoll told Arps during sentencing today, according to RNZ. “It is clear from all the material before me that you have strong and unrepentant views towards the Muslim community.”
Twelve other people in New Zealand have reportedly been charged for distributing the terrorist attack video, though it’s not clear that anyone else has yet been sentenced.