Christchurch mosque shooting: Court sentences terrorist to life imprisonment without parole
Brenton Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act.
A New Zealand court on Thursday sentenced a man who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in a mosque last year to life imprisonment without parole, Reuters reported. Brenton Tarrant, a 29-year-old Australian, pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act.
On March 15 last year, Tarrant had attacked two mosques, killing 51 people in Christchurch city of New Zealand. A part of the attack was broadcast live on Facebook, drawing public criticism of social media platforms. The police said he had planned to target a third mosque – the Ashburton Mosque – before he was arrested.
Life imprisonment without parole means Tarrant will never be freed until his death. This is the first time such a punishment has been imposed in the country, the New Zealand Herald reported.
In a pre-sentence speech, Tarrant claimed that he was not racist or xenophobic. He did not oppose his sentence, and said that at the time, his political views weren’t “real”, adding that he felt ostracised and wanted to damage society. However, he accepted that he committed a terror attack.
Tarrant had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but later changed his mind. After the sentence was pronounced by Justice Mander on Thursday, Tarrant quietly left the court.
“Nothing will take the pain away but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you throughout this process,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. She said Tarrant deserved to live the rest of his life in “complete and utter silence”.
Christchurch Crown Solicitor Mark Zarifeh said the “calculated sadism and depravity” of the terror attack could not be overstated. “The enormity of the offending in this case is without comparison in New Zealand’s legal history,” he said. “He had a desire to create terror in the Muslim community and beyond. These were meticulously planned attacks with the aim of executing as many people as possible. “He caused permanent and immeasurable suffering and harm to victims and families, the Muslim community and New Zealand.”
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said Tarrant should be deported to his home country of Australia. “Now is the time for Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, to receive and carry out the terrorist’s sentence in Australia,” Peters said. “The Islamic community and all of New Zealand has already suffered enough without having to pay astronomical prison costs to keep him safe in our prison system.”
However, Justice Minister Andrew Little said a new law will be required to extradite Tarrant to Australia. Little told the New Zealand Herald that at present, you could only be deported after you had finished your sentence. “Our corrections system is now obliged to detain him for life,” he said.