Tarrant is responsible for the worst terrorist massacre in New Zealand, carried out in two mosques in 2019
Tarrant is accused of the two deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year ago has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism
He had previously denied the charges and was due to go on trial in June.
The gun attacks at two mosques sent shockwaves around the world. In the wake of the killings, New Zealand brought in stricter gun laws.
The 29-year-old supremacist attacker, who has appeared before the New Zealand High Court by video conference, has admitted to 51 counts of murder, as well as 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism for the attacks he committed on 15 September. March 2019 in the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in the city of Christchurch.
The Australian, who has remained unmoved during the reading of the allegations, had pleaded not guilty last year. “He has been convicted on each of those charges. There is no need for a trial and the six weeks allotted for the June hearings will remain. vacancies, “the New Zealand High Court later indicated in a document.
“Victims will not have to face the trauma of the trial“
The High Court has not set a date for sentencing against Tarrant, who was to be tried on June 2, due to the situation of mandatory quarantine in New Zealand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are pleased that victims will not have to face the trauma of the trial, ” said Kevin Tso, executive director of the Christchurch Terrorist Attack Victims Support Network in a statement. For his part, Police Commissioner Mike Bush has applauded the resolution of the case and has highlighted that it is the “largest criminal prosecution in New Zealand history” .
This Thursday’s hearing was called the night before after Tarrant told his lawyers that he wanted to appear in court, but due to restrictions due to the new coronavirus pandemic, Judge Cameron Mader has allowed only 17 people to attend.
A lasting impact on New Zealand’s society
Tarrant is responsible for the worst terrorist massacre in New Zealand, carried out in the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where he shot at close range Muslims citizens who had come to those temples for their Friday prayers
The defendant, who also published his supremacist ideology on social networks and broadcast the attack live, took the authorities by surprise since he had no background and obtained a weapons license in November 2017 after complying with legal requirements.
Since the Christchurch attack, the New Zealand government has taken several steps including a semi-automatic gun ownership reform and pushed social media regulations globally to prevent the spread of hate messages , while creating a Royal Commission to investigate the facts.
New Zealand is in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak and the plea was made at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch High Court on Thursday.
No members of the public were allowed in to the hearing and Tarrant, from New South Wales, Australia, and his lawyers appeared via video link.
A representative of the two mosques that were attacked was allowed to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.
Judge Justice Cameron Mander said: “It is regrettable that the Covid-19 restrictions that presently apply do not permit victims and their families to travel to be present in the courtroom when the defendant entered his pleas of guilty.”
Sentencing on the 92 charges will take place at a date yet to be set. Tarrant was remanded in custody until 1 May when the court hopes to be able to set a sentencing date.
Justice Mander added: “There is no intention to sentence the defendant before the court returns to its normal operations and at a time when the victims and their families can attend court in person.”
Farid Ahmed, who lost his wife Husna in the attack on Al Noor Mosque (Masjid An-Nur), told TVNZ that many would be relieved they did not have to go through the trial, but others would feel very sad, still thinking about their loved ones.
Speaking of the gunman, he said: “I have been praying for him and he has taken the right direction. I am pleased he is feeling guilty, it is a good start.”