Quantcast
Connect with us

New Zealand mosque shooter changes his plea to guilty

Published

on

An Australian far-right extremist charged with murdering 51 Muslim worshippers in last year’s mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques unexpectedly flipped his plea to guilty on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Muslim community expressed relief at the surprise decision, which removes the need for a lengthy trial that authorities feared would be used to spout neo-Nazi propaganda.

ADVERTISEMENT

Self-avowed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 29, had previously denied 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism but reversed his plea in a hurriedly arranged court hearing.

“Yes, guilty,” Tarrant told Christchurch High Court via videolink from Auckland Prison as the charges were read out to him.

Tarrant, wearing a grey top, stared intently at the camera while making his confession.

Neither the former gym instructor from the Australian country town of Grafton nor his lawyers offered any explanation for the change, which makes him New Zealand’s first-ever convicted terrorist.

The South Pacific nation does not have the death penalty but Tarrant faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.

ADVERTISEMENT

The terror and murder charges all carry life sentences, setting a minimum non-parole period of 17 years but giving the judge power to imprison without the possibility of release.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the admission of guilt would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered in the attack.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked how she reacted upon hearing the news, Ardern replied: “I let out a huge sigh of relief”.

Judge Cameron Mander recorded convictions on all charges and said Tarrant would be sentenced at a date yet to be determined.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The guilty pleas represent a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding,” he said.

The plea came with New Zealand in its first day of a four-week COVID-19 lockdown.

Mander said sentencing would take place “at a time when victims and their families can attend the court in person”.

ADVERTISEMENT

The judge said advance reporting that Thursday’s hearing was taking place was suppressed in case Tarrant changed his mind at the last minute and maintained his innocence.

– ‘The right direction’ –

Tarrant’s trial had been due to start on June 2 and last some six weeks, with police commissioner Mike Bush saying Thursday’s hearing was arranged after the gunman contacted his lawyers on Tuesday.

“Police appreciate this news will come as a surprise to the victims and the public, some of whom may have wished to be present in the courtroom,” he said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bush said imams from the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, the ones targeted by Tarrant, were among only 17 people allowed in court to hear the revised plea.

New Zealand’s small and tight-knit Muslim community welcomed the fact that they would not have to endure a drawn-out trial raking over painful details of the worst mass shooting in the country’s modern history.

“I have been praying for him and he has taken the right direction,” Farid Ahmed, whose wife Husna was killed, told TVNZ.

“I am pleased he is feeling guilty. It is a good start.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Tarrant armed himself with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons and attacked the Al Noor mosque first, before moving on to the Linwood prayer centre, livestreaming the killings as he went.

His victims were all Muslim and included children, women and the elderly.

In a rambling manifesto posted online before the killing spree, Tarrant said he had moved to New Zealand with the specific aim of conducting an atrocity against Muslims.

The document said he became radicalised while travelling around Europe, although intelligence agencies have so far failed to find any evidence he was working with right-wing extremist groups.

His actions prompted Ardern, who has vowed never to say the killer’s name, to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws and launch a campaign to curb online extremism.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Shots fired, we have shots fired’: Listen to Louisville reporter’s harrowing live broadcast — 7 wounded

Published

on

While Minnesota's twin cities were the scene of massive protests over the police killing of George Floyd, there also was a major protest in Louisville.

"Seven people were shot Thursday night in downtown Louisville during a protest to demand justice for the shooting death of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor during a March police raid, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department," WDRB-TV reports.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Jerry Falwell Jr. says he’ll only follow Virginia’s coronavirus mask rule if it has Gov. Northam’s alleged blackface photo

Published

on

The Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. has come up with a solution to what he views as an objectionable mask mandate in Virginia: put Gov. Ralph Northam in his own alleged objectionable situation on it.“I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own,” Falwell, the president of Liberty University, tweeted Wednesday. “If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!”He also included a photo of the makeshift masks, complete with the yearbook photo that fea... (more…)

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump calls Minneapolis protesters ‘thugs’ — and threatens military action

Published

on

President Donald Trump blasted protesters in Minnesota outraged over the killing of George Floyd.

“ I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump tweeted after midnight.

“A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” he wrote, even though the National Guard was already deployed.

“ These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he threatened.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image