Christchurch shooting accused faces victims’ relatives in court on 50 murder charges


The man accused of murdering 50 people in the New Zealand mosque attacks has appeared via video link in the Christchurch high court, in his second formal court appearance since the shootings. Australian Brenton Tarrant faces a total of 89 charges in the high court, 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges – the most ever laid in New Zealand history.

Tarrant will undergo mental health tests before his case proceeds. A silent and largely motionless Tarrant appeared on a large screen in the courtroom, a small cell showing in the background. The courtroom’s public gallery was packed with dozens of friends and families of the victims, some who stared quietly at the defendant throughout.

During the half-hour hearing Justice Cameron Mander ordered Tarrant to undergo two assessments to determine whether he may be mentally impaired, legally insane or fit to stand trial. This is a routine step during many New Zealand trials. Mander suppressed the names of those Tarrant is accused of attempting to kill. The accused is being held in the maximum security wing of Auckland prison – more than 1,000km north of Christchurch – and has laid a complaint regarding his detention, saying he is being deprived of his basic rights.

Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was previously charged with only one murder following the attack and has been remanded without a plea. He has not applied for bail or name suppression, and his duty lawyer described him as “aware, lucid” in the hours following the massacre, and presenting as an “everyday sort of person”.(theguardian)…[+]