The person accused of killing 51 people in the attack on mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city has been charged with terrorism for the first time on Tuesday, police said. The accused, Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 cases of murder and 40 attempted murder over the March 15 attacks, AFP reported.
“The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch,” the police said in a statement. In March, the two mosques were attacked in Christchurch and the attack was broadcast live on Facebook.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden had described the mosque killings as “a well-planned terrorist attack”. The charges against Tarrant, who is a self-described white supremacist, were less extensive as New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, introduced in 2002, was untested in courts.
Tarrant’s next appearance in court is scheduled for June 14.
On Tuesday, police said that they had also met survivors and victims’ families to explain the fresh charges. “Police are committed to providing all the support necessary for what will be a challenging and emotional court process to come for the victim’s families and survivors of the attack,” they said.
The Christchurch attack was the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand. Within weeks, members of Parliament voted to change their gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons.
On May 15, global leaders and tech giants pledged to tackle the spread of hate and violent content online at a summit in Paris. Arden and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the “Christchurch Call to Action” at a meeting of digital leaders for the G7 nations.