Attack in Christchurch: against all odds, the killer pleads guilty

Brenton Tarrant had until then always denied being the author of the attack which killed 51 people in March 2019 in two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand.

Some relief came through the room when Brenton Tarrant spoke, via videoconference from Auckland Prison. The Australian accused of killing 51 people in March 2019 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, surprised Thursday by pleading guilty to all the charges against him.

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This guilty plea will make it possible to avoid a trial which could have served as a platform for this white Australian supremacist. “Yes, guilty,” said Brenton Tarrant. Dressed in a gray top, this 29-year-old man fixed his gaze on the camera by making this declaration. He had so far always denied the 51 murder charges, the 40 attempted murder charges and one other terrorist act charge.

Position change

Without explanation at this stage, he changed his position after a hastily organized hearing and kept secret for the general public for fear that he would give up at the last moment. As the death penalty does not exist in New Zealand, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Charges of terrorism and murder are punishable by life imprisonment.

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His trial, scheduled to last six weeks, was scheduled to begin on June 2 in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, where the attack on two mosques took place on March 15, 2019. For Jacinda Arden, who had decided never to pronounce the name of the killer, this admission of guilt will offer a kind of appeasement to the many people whose lives were battered by the attack.

Very important step

Justice Cameron Mander clarified that the accused would receive his sentence later, on an unspecified date. “The guilty plea represents a very important step towards the finalization of this criminal procedure”, noted the judge, adding that the sentencing hearing would only intervene when the pandemic of the new coronavirus is over in order to “allow victims and their families to come to court in person. ”

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The killer contacted his lawyers on Tuesday after which the hearing was organized, said police commissioner Mike Bush. “The police understand that this news will surprise the victims and the public, some would have liked to be present at the hearing,” he said in a statement.

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Brenton Tarrant, self-proclaimed white supremacist, is accused of having committed in March 2019 the largest mass killing in modern New Zealand history. Equipped with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, he successively opened fire in two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 people, all Muslims, including women and children. He filmed and broadcast the images of the carnage live on Facebook.

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