New Zealand: Christchurch mosque attacker pleads guilty

By Sorwar Alam

ANKARA (AA) – An Australian white supremacist accused of gunning down 51 worshippers last year at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has pleaded guilty to all charges, police said Thursday.

At the High Court in Christchurch, Brenton Tarrant admitted to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.

The 29-year-old had previously denied the charges and was due to go on trial in June.

He showed no emotion as he appeared via video link in the court around 10 a.m. local time Thursday (2100GMT Wednesday), according to Radio New Zealand.

The gun attacks on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre during Friday prayers on March 15, 2019 sent shockwaves around the world.

Two imams of the mosques were present in the courtroom as representatives of the victims.

"While the sentencing hearing is still pending, today’s guilty pleas are a significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days," said the police statement.

The statement also mentioned that sentencing will not take place until it is possible for all victims who wish to attend the hearing to do so.

"Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, that will not be possible for some time. The defendant has therefore been further remanded in custody until 1 May 2020, at which time the position will be reviewed and either a sentencing date will be set or there will be a further remand in custody," it added.

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