A graphic police training video showing the crime scene of Australia's deadliest mass shooting has been leaked onto the Internet, infuriating officials who asked websites on Thursday to remove the footage.
The video features close-ups of the bloodied bodies of those killed by a lone gunman in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996. Martin Bryant shot dead 35 people during his rampage at the historic tourist site and is serving a life sentence in prison.
The video, which police made for training purposes, was stolen from police archives years ago. Copies of it first popped up in the public domain in 2004, when officials discovered VHS tapes of the footage were being sold at a public market in Tasmania.
Despite an investigation, police never figured out who originally stole the video, and are now trying to determine who uploaded a copy onto the Internet, Tasmania Police Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard said Thursday.
Many people are distressed that this is on YouTube, Tilyard told reporters in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. "It does obviously raise emotions and concerns amongst people."
The release of the video comes just days after the deadly bombing and mass shooting in Norway that claimed 76 lives, and has opened fresh wounds for Tasmanians who still vividly remember the horror of the Port Arthur attack.
"Whoever put it on should be absolutely appalled at their behavior," Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings told reporters. "There could be not a more distressing time for people who were victims of Port Arthur than now, with the horror of what has happened in Norway."
Police have launched an investigation and have asked YouTube and other websites where the video has been posted to take it down, Tilyard said. Still, officials acknowledge it will be nearly impossible to completely remove the footage now that it is online.
"Once something goes out there onto the Internet ... you just totally lose control of it," Tilyard said.
At the time the video was shot, websites like YouTube didn't exist and police had no idea it would be so easy to distribute, Tilyard said.
YouTube officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority wrote a letter to the Australian ambassador in Norway, asking that "solidarity, sympathy and loving support be conveyed to the people of Norway" following last week's attacks there.
"Norway's beauty also has haunting similarities to Tasmania with its isolation, rugged contours and forests," Barry Jones wrote in the letter. "The personal grief caused by last Friday's atrocity will long be remembered as a terrible example of human cruelty, arrogance, violence and narcissism."