What Mark Taylor could be prosecuted for

If Mark Taylor manages to get from captivity in Syria to Turkey, and then back to New Zealand – the Government nor anyone else seems to be rushing to help him come back here – he is likely to be taken into custody pending prosecutions. What he might face is yet to be determined, but there’s a variety of possibilities.

Stuff – Mark Taylor: The potential legal case facing the ‘Kiwi jihadi’ if he makes it home to New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said “Kiwi jihadi” Mark Taylor would face the full force of the law if he returned to New Zealand, so what would that look like?

Ardern made clear “it is unlawful to join and fight with a terrorist organisation as Taylor has done”, so there would certainly be legal consequences.

Is it Ardern’s call to make? Prime Ministers wouldn’t usually get involved in prosecutions, politicians are supposed to get a separation between them and the administration of the law.

If Taylor manages to make his own way to consular assistance – the closest available is in Turkey – and return to New Zealand it’s likely he will be picked up at the airport by authorities and brought to prison awaiting criminal prosecution.

That seems like a given. It would be alarming if this didn’t happen.

In 2015, police took “further security measures” after Taylor posted a YouTube video urging Islamic State followers in New Zealand to launch attacks on Anzac Day.

This week police told Stuff if a New Zealand citizen suspected of associating with a terrorist group were to return, they would be investigated under New Zealand law.

Police were working closely with domestic and international partners as part of its efforts to ensure the safety and security of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

“The circumstances of these individuals is highly complex and any investigation or possible judicial proceedings would be considered on a case by case basis. Police does not discuss matters regarding specific individuals.”

So what is Ardern giving her opinion for then?

Legal experts say Taylor’s social media and video postings would like see him charged under the Crimes Act, Terrorism Suppression Act and possibly the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act.

He would be refused bail but would avail the rights offered to every citizen in the criminal justice system and his case would likely be long and drawn out through the courts.

The prosecution would not necessarily be a slam dunk with much of the case dependent on proof.

It’s normal for just about any legal case to depend on proof.

Dr Bill Hodge from the University of Auckland law faculty…

“As I understand it, he wasn’t shooting but acting on guard duty but that in itself is routine military exercise. Even if he wasn’t shooting or beheading, he was enabling others to do those things.”

“I think he’d be faced with a maximum possible sentence of 14 years, on the outer limits.”

That must surely depend on what he is charge with.

Professor Alberto Costi​ from Victoria University, who specialises in armed conflicts and international criminal law, said it was not clear what Taylor really done but he had boasted about what he was involved in.

There were provisions in the Crimes Act for threatening to kill as well as the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity.

John Ip, senior law lecturer at the University of Auckland, said Taylor could be charged with several crimes.

War crimes were a possibility.

He cites a case from Sweden, where a former rebel was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes – more specifically, involvement in the execution of captured Syrian government soldiers.

However, it’s more likely Taylor would face prosecution under the Terrorism Suppression Act. It states any person who even joins a designated terrorist organisation, is liable on conviction to imprisonment for up to 14 years.

That’s where the 14 year maximum comes from, but that’s just one possible charge.

Another possibility under the same act, was to commit a terrorist act, punishable by up to life imprisonment, he says.

Ip and other legal experts agree, the most likely offence would likely be section 13 of the act; participating in a terrorist group, which would not require proof of specific wrongful conduct such as executing prisoners and killing civilians. The law describes the participation in a designated terrorist entity.

But Ip says there is no guiding case law on what terms like “participation” mean.

“The sections have never been used and sitting moribund since the aborted prosecution in relation to the Operation Eight raids in 2007.”

Whatever Taylor ends up being charged with it would be a test case and is likely to be challenging to both prosecute and defend.

Would it go before a jury? It could be hard to find 12 people in new Zealand who don’t think he’s an idiot who deserves to have the legal book thrown at him.

It’s possible that with untested law he gets off on a technicality.

Another possibility is some sort of charge and plea agreement. Taylor has already claimed or admitted quite a bit. He might find it simpler and less risky to cooperate and accept a moderate sentence.


  1. I don’t know that Mark Taylor will be at risk from this:

    At a glance that’s a weird looking photo, it looks like the women’s head is in the wrong place, or badly photoshopped on..

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      There are only 9 legs there, too.

  2. Ray

     /  March 9, 2019

    Forget all that, he should be charged with making the tv show “The Office” look like a documentary.
    What an A class clown.

  3. Blazer

     /  March 9, 2019

    ‘ what is Ardern giving her opinion for then’….unbelievable..!

    you should know she’s got her private citizen of NZ …’hat’ on..FFS!

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      That’s not the point, She’s not speaking as that, and you know it.

  4. Patzcuaro

     /  March 9, 2019

    This sounds like it would be a case for Golriz Ghahraman, with her international experience defending war criminals.

    • Duker

       /  March 9, 2019

      You should take it on as , like him you are thick as a brick

      • Patzcuaro

         /  March 9, 2019

        Did you have any particular type of brick in mind or are we talking about your standard brick which is 92mm thick.

  5. NOEL

     /  March 9, 2019

    I hope the pollies have made the laws water fight after the last farce where the defendants could only face firearms charges.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      At least they were facing something.

      It’s like car conversion, which isn’t the same as theft but means unlawfully taking a car for one’s own use without meaning to keep it. The car thief has obviously done that, and can be charged with it even if they can’t be done for theft.

      The two child killers had no say in the lesser charge of manslaughter (contrary to what people who watch US televisiont think, plea bargaining is not done here) As the then Minister of Justice had to explain many times, if they were charged with murder they would almost certainly walk free, as there was not the intent to kill the child, but if it was manslaughter they would not, as the child died from what they did to him.

  6. Corky

     /  March 9, 2019

    He won’t be charged with anything. A posse of liberal drips will be waiting to make him their
    cause célèbre.

    He will be arrested. Maybe detained. Then found not guilty because of diminished responsibility proven by his public utterances before coming back to New Zealand.

    After that he will find the going as tough as his final days with Isis as liberals move on to
    the next case to bolster their cause.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  March 9, 2019

      I think the liberal drips have missed out as he is already a cause célèbre for the rabid right. I can do nice acutes too.

      • Corky

         /  March 9, 2019

        Yes, you can..but you aren’t a deep thinker. The so-called rabid right you speak of includes many socialists. We simply don’t want him back in the country. And surprisingly that is for a
        very rational reason.

        Meanwhile your disingenuous buddies, similar to those who went on strike during WW2, don’t give a stuff about national security…they care only for their cause.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  March 9, 2019

          What has WW2 got to do with the price of fish.

          Lawrence of Arabia was in the area but that was WW1. Here is an interesting aside.

          “He was born out of wedlock in Tremadog, Wales, in August 1888 to Thomas Chapman (who became, in 1914, Sir Thomas Chapman, 7th Baronet), an Anglo-Irish nobleman from County Westmeath, and Sarah Junner, a Scottish governess, with whom Chapman had left his wife and first family in Ireland to cohabit; they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. The name “Lawrence” was probably adopted from that of Sarah’s likely father, a member of a family of that name where her mother was employed as a servant when she became pregnant.”

          All courtesy of Wiki

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 9, 2019

            I would be very surprised if many people were on his side; even his family doesn’t want to know him. The chances of his being taken up by anyone are slight, I would think.

  7. Odysseus

     /  March 9, 2019

    Among the many charges Taylor should face is genocide. New Zealand has ratified the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In 2016 the UN declared ISIS’ atrocities against the Yazidis to be genocide. If found guilty he is likely to be given a period of community service and golf lessons.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      He can’t be charged with genocide if he didn’t commit it.

      My feeling that he was all talk and too gutless to be anywhere near real danger seems to have been right.

  8. Finbaar Rustle

     /  March 9, 2019

    A couple of years on home D will allow him time to write
    “The Truth” where he will explain how he was forced
    against his will to join ISIS and how he always remained
    fiercely loyal to democracy despite unbearable torture.
    “Mark’d Man” a more exciting sequel will show case
    his dangerous and exciting adventures.
    “The ISIS Warrior” will be an in depth analysis of life in ISIS world.
    “Prodigal son” +”Mark the evangelist” will follow in quick succession
    proving how he reintegrates into Kiwi life.
    Yup riches and celeb status awaits our brave lad.
    Kiwi of the year award coming up in 2025.
    The Ingham twins missed a trick here.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      I doubt that. The Bumbling Jihadi hasn’t the charisma for anything like that; he also isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree.

      • lurcher1948

         /  March 9, 2019

        For a so called dummy he seems to have come and gone and come and has survived this conflict, he will last longer than Simon bridges I feel

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 10, 2019

          He has survived because he kept well away from the danger zone. Now the Bumbling Jihadi wants the country whose passport he contemptuously and ostentatiously destroyed to come to the rescue…but they can’t.

  9. Gezza

     /  March 9, 2019

    Iraqi President Barham Salih has said foreign Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL,ISIS) fighters tried in Iraq could be handed death sentences, according to an interview published by Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National on Friday.

    The ISIL fighters “will be tried in accordance to Iraqi law and may be sentenced to death if found guilty” of killing Iraqis, the paper quoted Salih on its website on Thursday. “Iraqi law allows for capital punishment and we will uphold Iraqi law.”

    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces backed by the United States handed over some 280 Iraqi and foreign suspected ISIL members last month, Iraq’s military said. More such handovers are expected under an agreement to transfer some 500 detainees held by the Kurdish-led SDF.

    Maybe the best thing really is just to do nothing, but I suspect the Iraqis would quickly figure out he’s a half-wit, & they’d need to prove he was in Iraq or killed Iraqis, which seems unlikely.

    The only member of his family I’ve heard comment on him (an uncle, I think) said they didn’t want anything to do with him & described as someone not very bright but with a sense of entitlement.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 9, 2019

      I heard ‘a family member’ talking about him, but missed part of it (how annoying)

      He’s not just a half-wit, he’s a gutless wonder who seems to have stood back and let the other boys do the dangerous stuff while he minded their coats.

  10. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 9, 2019

    Can he be charged with being as thick as a brick? The banality of evil.

    • Blazer

       /  March 9, 2019

      that is not a crime Al…otherwise you would never have to worry about the RMA.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  March 9, 2019

      If as thick as a brick doesn’t work there is always thick as two short planks.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 9, 2019

        Or as thick as pig shit.

        Al; have I ever told the ultimate banality of evil ? A German woman who had no qualms about her part in mass ‘euthanasia’ because it was legal, She was brought up not to do anything illegal, even steal a chocolate bar, because it was against the law. She saw nothing wrong with taking part in mass murder, but wouldn’t, one must assume, walk on the grass if a sign said not to or eat a grape in the supermarket.