The man accused of attacking two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city last year that left 51 people killed, pled guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism on Thursday.
Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the Christchurch High Court on the first day of the national lockdown in nEW zealand to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the media report.
He admitted to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act in a closed court hearing, local media reported.
Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement after the court hearing, “”The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15”.
“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 further added.
The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.
Tarrant was the first person to be charged under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
Last year, Ardern had termed the shootings as “an unprecedented act of violence”.
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian man accused of carrying out the attacks, was alleged to have an arsenal of five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs).
(With inputs from agency)