New Zealand court charges Christchurch mosque killer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A New Zealand court will begin its hearings on Monday on the conviction of a suspected white supremacist accused of killing 51 Muslim traitors in a massacre that shocked the world and called for a worldwide online campaign to put hatred out.

PHILO PHOTO: Brenton Tarrant, accused of murder in connection with mosque attacks, is seen in the dock during his performance in Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald / Pool via REUTERS

Brenton Tarrant, an Australian citizen, attacked Muslims at Friday prayers in the South Island town of Christchurch on March 15 last year with semi-automatic rifles, broadcasting the shooting live on Facebook.

Tarrant pleaded guilty to all charges in March, including 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act.

Supreme Court Justice Cameron Mander will hear statements from 66 survivors of the attack earlier this week and Tarrant will likely be present in the courtroom. Tarrant will be allowed to speak before the court before sentencing.

The attack led to a ban on firearms in New Zealand and a campaign against hate speech online led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a reaction cited as a model for other countries.

“This will be the acceptance of his guilt and recognition of his punishment,” said Aliya Danzeisen, a community leader and member of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand.

“Of course he could appeal, but for families this will be that closure in the sense that he has harmed us and he will have to pay for it,” said Danzeisen, who will be in court with a friend who was a victim of the attack.

Justice Mander said in an order issued earlier this month that the court has discretionary powers to ban the publication of statements on victims, if necessary, and also ensure that it is not used as a platform to cause further harm.

Tarrant faces life in prison, with a non-parole period of 17 years. But the judge has the power to rule on imprisonment without the possibility of release, meaning Tarrant would be imprisoned for the rest of his life. Such a sentence has never been imposed in New Zealand.


Tarrant stormed the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on March 15 last year, firing bullets at worshipers, including women and children, before attacking another neighboring mosque. He was arrested en route to a third attack.

A manifesto posted online by Tarrant shortly before he attacked the mosques, and video recordings of the mosque shooting sports were banned by the New Zealand censorship board.

The greater coverage Tarrant receives, the more opportunity he has to say things that can resonate with others, said Chris Wilson, program director for the Master of Conflict and Terrorism Studies at the University of Auckland.

“We need some coverage. We need to know, the Muslim community needs to know … we need justice. But it must be done in a way that does not inspire others, ”he said.

Live reporting from the courtroom is prohibited, and other restrictions are placed on what the media may report.

Report by Praveen Menon; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.