One 12 months after killing 51 worshipers at two Christchurch mosques, an Australian white supremacist accused of the slaughter on Thursday modified his plea to guilty.
Twenty-nine-year-old Brenton Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 counts of homicide, 40 counts of tried homicide and one rely of terrorism. The killing spree was the deadliest in New Zealand’s fashionable historical past and prompted the federal government to hurry via new legal guidelines banning most semi-automatic weapons.
The sudden flip in the case took survivors and relations by surprise, and introduced aid to individuals throughout New Zealand. Many had feared he would attempt to use his trial as a platform to advertise his views; outlined in a 74-page manifesto he revealed on-line shortly earlier than the assaults.
Tarrant is the primary particular person to be discovered guilty of terrorism in New Zealand below legal guidelines handed after the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults in the U.S.
The change in plea got here lower than two weeks after New Zealanders commemorated those that died throughout the assaults on March 15, 2019.
“Honestly, I’m nonetheless attempting to course of what simply occurred,” stated Aya Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was killed in the assault on the Al Noor mosque. “I really feel conflicted.”
She stated that on the one hand, she had needed to search out out extra particulars about what occurred on the trial however however was feeling relieved about not having to face the trauma of sitting via it.
Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot 9 occasions throughout the assault at Al Noor, stated he was stunned by the flip of occasions and hoped the choose would set an instance on the sentencing by imposing the harshest punishment in the nation’s historical past and serving to guarantee nothing like it will occur once more.
“I’m blissful that he has accepted that he’s guilty,” Atacocugu stated.
Judge Cameron Mander has not but set a sentencing date. Tarrant faces life imprisonment, with the choose having some discretion in deciding the minimal variety of years Tarrant should serve earlier than changing into eligible for parole.
The plea got here at a unexpectedly organized court docket listening to at a time that New Zealand was starting a four-week lockdown to try to fight the brand new coronavirus. The lockdown meant that Tarrant appeared in the court docket from his jail cell through video hyperlink and that just a few individuals had been allowed contained in the courtroom.