Sat | Mar 28, 2020

New Zealand mosque gunman pleads guilty to murder, terrorism

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 3:42 PM
In this Saturday, March 16, 2019, file photo, Brenton Tarrant, the man charged in relation to the Christchurch mosque shootings, appears in the Christchurch District Court, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Mark Mitchell/Pool via AP, File)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The man who committed the worst atrocity in New Zealand’s modern history when he slaughtered 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques unexpectedly pleaded guilty to all charges Thursday.

The attacks targeting people praying at the mosques a year ago shocked the nation and prompted new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. 

It also prompted global changes to social media protocols after the gunman livestreamed his attack on Facebook, where it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The sudden turn in the case took survivors and relatives by surprise, and brought relief to people across New Zealand. 

Many had feared Australian white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant would try to use his trial as a platform to promote his views. 

He’d outlined those views in a 74-page manifesto he published online shortly before the attacks.

Tarrant, 29, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism at the Christchurch High Court. 

He had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges and his trial had been scheduled to start in June.

Tarrant is the first person to be found guilty of terrorism in New Zealand under laws passed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

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