New Zealand mosque shooter pleads guilty in surprise move

Cheryl Sanders
March 26, 2020

Tarrant's trial had been due to start on June 2 and last some six weeks and police commissioner Mike Bush said Thursday's hearing was hastily arranged after the gunman contacted his lawyers on Tuesday.

Brenton Tarrant changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in an appearance by audio-visual link in the High Court at Christchurch this morning.

He also pleaded guilty to 40 charges of attempted murder and a terrorism charge, TVNZ said.

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 U.S.

The imams of both the mosques attacked were among 17 people allowed to attend Wednesday's hearings due to new restrictions on gatherings in small spaces due to coronavirus.

"Honestly, I'm still trying to process what just happened", said Aya Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was killed in the attack on the Al Noor mosque.

"The guilty pleas represent a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding", he said. Tarrant faces life imprisonment on the charges. His change in plea came as a surprise and relief to survivors and relatives of the victims.

Other reports by iNewsToday