A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered the accused Christchurch mosque gunman to undergo a mental health assessment to determine if he is fit to face trial for the murder of 50 Muslim worshippers.
Alleged attacker Brenton Tarrant is facing 50 murder and 39 attempted murder charges over the March 15 attacks on two mosques, which shocked the world and rattled normally peaceful New Zealand.
The 28-year-old Australian will be seen by two health assessors to determine “whether he is fit to stand trial or insane”, High Court judge Cameron Mander ruled during a brief hearing in Christchurch.
Tarrant appeared by audio-visual link from Auckland, where he is being held in isolation in a maximum security prison following the deadliest massacre in modern New Zealand history.
The suspect — a self-avowed white supremacist — sat motionless throughout the hearing. He was not required to enter a plea.
Several relatives of victims were in the court getting their first glimpse of the man charged with the massacre.
“(I) just want to see what he has to say, what sort of feeling he’s got, (his) emotion, to see what his reaction is, good or bad,” Yama Nabi, whose 71-year-old father was killed, told Radio New Zealand outside the court.
Tarrant was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on June 14.
Ahead of the shooting, Tarrant posted a 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself by name and described himself as a white supremacist out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
He live-streamed himself as he opened fire in the packed Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers and then travelled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque.
Tarrant was initially charged with one murder count as a holding measure when he made his first court appearance a day after the killings.
However, the charges were updated Friday to include the names of all 50 who died in the attack and 39 others who were wounded.
Tarrant had sacked a court-appointed lawyer after his first court appearance, raising fears he wanted to represent himself and attempt to use any trial as a propaganda platform.
However, two Auckland lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared in court on his behalf.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the mosque slaughter a well-planned “terrorist attack” and took immediate steps to tighten the country’s gun laws.
The government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech.
Fox News reporter and right-wing conspiracy theorists planned to wiretap family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich: report
The Daily Beast on Monday evening broke a bombshell report on a secret 2017 meeting in Texas on a right-wing conspiracy theory where espionage was discussed.
"One of their topics was responding to online critics of wealthy Texas businessman Ed Butowsky, who had recently been outed as a driving force behind a retracted Fox News story about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich," The Beast reported. "The group that gathered at Butowsky’s home included a conspiracy theorist, a Fox reporter fighting for her career, a former private intelligence contractor married to star journalist Lara Logan, and a Democratic PR operative who lost his business in the face of sexual assault allegations."
Maddow breaks down potential ‘direct financial connection’ between the Russian government and Donald Trump
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow read bombshell excerpts from a new book set for release on Tuesday.
The host interviewed David Enrich, finance editor at The New York Times, about his forthcoming book Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction.
The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" read excerpts from the book.
"There was no doubt that Deutsche Bank had extensive business dealings with Russia, and those dealings included acting as a conduit for dirty money to get out of Russia and into the western financial system," Enrich wrote.
Congress still has one big tool left to rein in Trump’s corruption: Oversight Committee Democrat
Senate Republicans may have managed to quash the impeachment trial without calling forth any new witnesses or seriously considering the evidence against President Donald Trump. And the president may feel vindicated and largely invulnerable as a result.
But, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday, that doesn't mean Democrats don't have one last big play to rein in the president's abuses of power. They can use the first and strongest authority delegated to them: the power of the purse.
"What can Democrats really do when it comes to oversight of the president?" asked Cooper. "I mean, now that impeachment is over, does seem like there are fewer and fewer guardrails, if any."