Crime & Justice

New Zealand mosque attacker remains silent awaiting condemnation

By Rocio Otoya

Sydney, Australia, Aug 26 (efe-epa).- The author of the supremacist massacre against two mosques in Christchurch, which caused 51 deaths, has rejected his right to testify before the High Court of New Zealand, which will condemn him Thursday for the March 2019 incident, judicial sources told EFE.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 29, who took up his legal defense for this conviction phase that began Monday, pleaded guilty last March to 51 counts of murder, 40 for attempted murder and one for terrorism, avoiding a trial of more than six weeks.

On Mar.15, 2019, Tarrant was arrested after he attacked Linwood and Al-Noor mosques in the city of Chirstchurch with semi-automatic weapons.

Tarrant, who partially streamed the massacre and posted his white supremacist idea on social media, has only spoken at preliminary hearings last March to initially plead not guilty and then guilty, which prevented a lengthy trial.

The accused, who dismissed his lawyer in last July, had the opportunity to explain his motivations for the attack and air his supremacist ideas during the conviction process at the High Court in Christchurch.

However, following the conclusion of the testimonies of some 90 survivors and families of the victims on Wednesday, Tarrant rejected his right to address the court.

In his place, the court appointed counsel will make an address, followed by the Crown prosecutor and the assistant attorney of the proceedings, before Judge Cameron Mander gives his sentence, expected to be life sentence without parole.

The three days of testimonies, during which Tarrant remained impassive behind a glass cubicle, were marked by strong emotions with expressions of pain, outrage, anger and compassion, along with dignity, pride and empowerment.

“He acts very tough but, to be honest with you, he’s nothing,” said Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah, who confronted the Tarrant with an eftpos machine and then threw one of the weapons the attacker used against the glass of his car before the latter fled Linwood.

“I saw the fear in his eyes when he was running for his life, your Honour,” remarked Wahabzadah, who then addressed the accused with the words, “you never forget these two eyes that you run from” to conclude his victim impact statement.

This heroic action, which contributed to Tarrant’s arrest, was recognized by Judge Mander, who said, “Mr. Wahabzadah before you go, (I want to tell you that) I’ve seen the video and I want to acknowledge your courage.”

Meanwhile, time and time again Tarrant listened to being called a coward for attacking helpless Muslims at the mosques, including children like the three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, whom he shot as he clung to his father’s leg.

“You have killed my son, but for me you have killed all of New Zealand,” said Aden Diriye, father of Mucaad, who was the youngest victim of the attack.

“I know that true justice awaits you in the next life and I know it will be more severe. I will never forgive you for what you did,” Diriye said, recalling that his son wanted to be a policeman.

“Send Brenton to Australia,” said John Milne, father of a 14-year-old boy killed in the attack, when addressing Christchurch City Superior Court Judge Cameron Mander, despite the fact that the decision is not in the hands of the magistrate.

The former school teacher, during his emotional and heartbreaking testimony, also told Tarrant he had forgiven him unconditionally and asked him to seek forgiveness from his son whom he killed.

However, Aha Nabi, the son of another victim, asked Judge Mander that “this parasite of the world never gets out of prison in his entire life and never sets an example for those who follow in his footsteps.”

During the trial process, a representative of the victims and the Muslim community also spoke of the impact of the attack on society, which has led to fear among minorities, with reduced attendance at mosques, and increase in racist activities on the anniversary of the massacre. EFE-EPA


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