‘Hurt & shame’

New Zealand P.M. Jacinda Ardern gives emotional apology to family of slain backpacker

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a tearful apology to the family of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane on Monday, declaring that she felt an “overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country.” Ardern’s comments came after the 26-year-old suspect in the case appeared in court for the first time on Monday. Millane, who left her home in Wickford, Essex, to travel the world just weeks ago, had arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, on November 20 after spending a little over a month in South America. She was last seen on December 3 after entering the Citylife Hotel in the Auckland with a “male companion.” Her body was later found in the bushes of the Waitakere Ranges, a chain of hills that run through the Auckland region.

“Firstly, I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing and feeling right now,” said Ardern, her voice shaking from emotion. “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.

“On behalf of New Zealand, I would like to apologize to Grace’s family. Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that. My thoughts and prayers are with her father David who is in the country, and her mother who cannot be here, and her wider family and friends and loved ones.”

The defendant, whose identity is temporarily being allowed to remain anonymous after his lawyer appealed a judge decision to let his name become public knowledge, is listed as residing at the Citylife Hotel. In comments reported by Radio NZ, the judge also addressed Millane’s family in the courtroom.

“I don’t know what we say to you at this time. Your grief must be desperate,” the judge said. “All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace.”

Watch video of Ardern’s emotional apology below.

Read the full story at SKY News.

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