Christchurch mosque shootings: man accused pleads guilty to killing 51 people

Last year, Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant do not plead guilty to 92 charges, including 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the first time such charge has been filed in the country.

But appearing via audio-visual link from a prison in Auckland, Tarrant pleaded guilty at all points during a hearing in Christchurch High Court on Thursday morning. He is due back in court in May. New Zealand police say Tarrant will not be sentenced until it is possible for all victims who want to attend the hearing to do so – which could be delayed by the current pandemic.

Right hearing comes when New Zealand locks to stop the spread of coronavirus, with just essential services – including courts – allowed to stay open.

Tarrant's admission of guilt also comes just days since the anniversary of the deadly attack, which took place on March 15 last year and was New Zealand's worst mass shooting in modern history.

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According to New Zealand law, killings have life time and convicted killers must spend at least 10 years in prison before being eligible for probation.

Guilty claim welcome

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the guilty prayer would "provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered" by the attacks.

& # 39; We have sleepwalking on racism: & # 39; New Zealand & # 39; s soul searching in the wake of Christchurch attacks
Arrangements for the hearing were made at short notice after Tarrant on Tuesday suggested through his lawyers that he wanted to be brought to justice, New Zealand Police Chief Mike Bush so in a statement.

"Police appreciate that this news will come as a surprise to victims and the public, some of whom may have wanted to be present in the courtroom," Bush said. The two Imams from Al Noor and the Linwood Islamic Center – the two mosques targeted in the attack – were in the courtroom to represent victims, Bush added.

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"While sentencing is still pending, today's guilt prayers are a significant milestone compared to one of our darkest days," Bush said. "I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community in Christchurch – the many lives that have changed forever."

Ahmed Khan, who was inside the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch during the attack, said he heard about Tarrant's claim in an email sent by the victims' court Thursday morning.

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He fled Afghanistan to escape violence, only to see a man die in Christchurch's arms
"It's pretty surprising," Khan said, who held an injured man while dying in his arms. "I'm pretty happy that he's pleading guilty to all charges, so we don't have to see his face during a lengthy trial."

He said the victims were worried that the trial – which was scheduled for June – would be pulled out of Tarrant so he could get extra attention.

"(People in the courtroom) were very angry and got very emotional because it seemed like the offender wasn't sorry," Khan said. "Now we hope for a good result."

The aftermath of the deadly attack

Tarrant was arrested March 15 last year, within 21 minutes of receiving the first emergency calls by police.

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Almost all the victims died at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center. Only two later died in hospital, including a Turkish national who died in May.

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The victims hailed from all over the world, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Less than a month after the shooting, New Zealand lawmakers voted to change the country gun laws to ban military style semi-automatic weapons.

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