Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, the right-wing extremist who attacked two mosques in the Christchurch city of New Zealand on Friday and killed 49 worshippers, filming and live streaming the entire terror act, was produced in court on Saturday and has been charged with one count of murder.
The judge read a single murder charge against him the 28-year-old who appeared in the court wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, AFP reported.
The brief hearing was held behind closed doors for security reasons.
“There is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others,” The Guardian quoted the judge as saying.
Tarrant, a former fitness instructor, did not request for bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 5.
Security has been tightened up across New Zealand and all big public events during the weekend have been cancelled.
At least 49 people were killed and 48 others, including an Indian, injured when at least two gunmen, said to be right-wing extremists, opened indiscriminate fire during Friday prayers at two mosques here on Friday.
The police have warned Muslims across the country not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand” in the wake of the Christchurch attacks on Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid.
Over 40 injured people are still being treated in hospital.
The police had initially arrested four persons in connection with the attacks. One of them was however turned out to be a member of the public who carried a firearm and was trying to help. The two others are still in custody, and their link to the attacks is still unknown.
Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in a car and defused near the attack site.
Apart from live-streaming the attacks, Tarrant also documented his two years of preparations in a lengthy hate-filled “manifesto” detailing why he decided to pick up the gun.
The live-streamed footage showed him going room-to-room, victim to victim. After injuring some of his victims, he shot them from close range to ensure they are dead.
While 41 people died in the Masjid al Noor, the attack on the smaller Linwood mosque left seven dead. The remaining victim died in hospital.
The survivors included 17 members of the Bangladesh cricket team, who were about to enter the Christchurch mosque for Friday prayers when they were alerted about the attack. They managed to escape unhurt. Their match against New Zealand that was to begin on Saturday has been called off.