New Zealand mosque attack gunman to represent himself at sentencing
Sydney, Australia, July 13 (efe-epa).- The Australian man who admitted to committing the 2019 terror attack against two New Zealand mosques that killed 51 people will represent himself at his sentencing hearing on Aug. 24, judicial sources said Monday.
On Mar. 26, Brenton Tarrant pleaded guilty to all charges – 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one under the Terrorism Suppression Act – by videolink at an unscheduled hearing in the High Court in the South Island city of Christchurch.
As Tarrant pleaded guilty, the trial scheduled to begin on July 2 was not held. He is now awaiting sentencing, which was postponed on Mar. 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Tarrant told the Christchurch High Court via videolink from the from high-security prison in Auckland, that he wanted to represent himself at his sentencing next month.
“This development does not affect the sentencing of the defendant, which will proceed on 24 August,” said Judge Cameron Mander, who also agreed to appoint a lawyer in case Tarrant wants legal counsel.
The sentencing against Tarrant, who faces life in prison, could last three days or more.
Tarrant’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, said that they will withdraw their representation of the 29-year-old Australian, who at the beginning of the process had pleaded not guilty and expressed his intention to defend himself in court.
The massacre began on Mar. 15, 2019, when Tarrant livestreamed himself on social media heading to Al Noor mosque in Christchurch with firearms. There he opened fire as he went inside, killing and wounding dozens of worshipers observing Friday prayers.
He then drove to Linwood mosque where he continued his attack and was arrested afterwards when his car was rammed off the road by police. He was thought to be on his way to another location to continue his shooting spree. He also published his manifesto online.
It was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history, and Tarrant was the first to be charged under the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act.
Within a week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had passed strict gun reform laws, and a couple of months later launched the Christchurch Call with French President Emmanuel Macron to eliminate violent and extremist content online.
She also announced the setting up of a special commission to investigate the attacks. EFE-EPA