New Zealand mosque survivors to face gunman at sentencing

WION Web Team
Wellington, New Zealand Published: Aug 23, 2020, 07:20 AM(IST)

Brenton Harrison Tarrant Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The 29-year-old white supremacist is guilty of open firing at more than 50 people in a mosque in Christchurch in March 2019

New Zealand mosque shooting survivors, and family or friends of the victims have been allowed to come to the court this week and face the gunman during his sentencing.

The 29-year-old white supremacist is guilty of open firing at more than 50 people in a mosque in Christchurch in March 2019. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the gunman, was arrested immediately, after which he pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism.

"I don't think there is much that I can say that is going to ease just how traumatic that period's going to be," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Tarrant's attack is the known as the worst attack in the history of modern New Zealand, and was hugely criticised by leaders all over the world. The racist attack was new to the country and is labelled to be the first terrorism conviction in the nation's history. As New Zealand abolished death penalty for murder in 1961, the longest known sentence, as of now, is life imprisonment with a minimum 30-year non-parole period. However, this may be the first life imprisonment without parole in the history of New Zealand.

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His sentencing will be a four-days long process, which will be starting from Monday. The Australian citizen will be representing himself in the court, as he earlier dismissed all lawyers issued for him. Experts fear he will use this opportunity to further promote his racist views, but people are also hoping that the judge will block all his tries to approach the stand.

The Judge Cameron Mander has also taken the liberty of banning the reporting rights of some of the things that will be said in the courtroom by either of the sides. He has now allowed live reporting from the courtroom, and has allowed the survivors and family members to choose to stay anonymous. The decision has been taken as Mander believes this is a sensitive issue that has affected many people in different ways and can further fuel the anger if not reported correctly.

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Pandemic restrictions

Due to the social distancing regulations in the country to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, all survivors and family members were asked to be quarantined for a 14-day period on arrival. Those who testes negative will only be allowed to attend the court on Monday. In addition to this, only 35 people will be allowed to be present in the court room at a time. Others will be seated in the adjacent courtrooms, where the sentencing will be live broadcasted.

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