By Rocío Otoya
Sydney, Australia, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The suspected white supremacist who killed 51 people in an attack on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in 2019 is facing a life sentence in a trial that begins Monday.
Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 29, faces 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism in relation to the massacre he carried out with semi-automatic rifles during Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.
He pleaded guilty to the charges in March and his sentence will be decided in the coming week during a trial which will include testimonies from the victims of the vicious attack that shocked New Zealand and the world.
New Zealand High Court judge Cameron Mander is expected to hand down a life sentence for Tarrant, who broadcast the massacre live on social media.
Law expert Alexander Gillespie told Efe that Tarrant, the first person to be tried under the terror law New Zealand implemented after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, could be landed with a 17-year sentence, the minimum required for murder committed as a terrorist act.
“New Zealand does not do cumulative life sentences,” he added. “The judge does, however, have the ability to set a sentence without parole (as in, no end date). That has never been done before in New Zealand — but this time, if ever, it could be used.”
“The crime, it’s magnitude and it’s racial hatred focus is unprecedented in New Zealand.”
The judge is due to hear the testimonies of more than 60 survivors of the attack and it is possible that the accused will be brought to the chamber from the maximum security prison where he is being held in Auckland.
“Hearing the victims statements will be very important,” Gillespie said.