The man accused of murdering a British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand last month pleaded not guilty during a brief court appearance on Wednesday. Millane disappeared on the eve of her 22nd birthday last month while on a worldwide holiday after graduating from university.
The killing shocked New Zealand, which is usually regarded as a safe place to travel, prompting nationwide vigils and a heartfelt apology to Millane's family by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The 27-year-old accused, whose name has been suppressed by the court, was arrested a week later and police found the tourist's body the following day on the outskirts of Auckland. He is slated to stand trial in November.
"There is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality," she said. The defendant has been identified on social media and by news outlets outside New Zealand, prompting a government rebuke of tech giant Google for breaching the court's suppression order. Presiding judge Simon Moore warned media and others in the courtroom for Wednesday's hearing not to take any photographs. During a previous court appearance, a member of the public gallery took a picture which was published online.
(With inputs from agencies.)