New Zealand mosque attacker Tarrant to face 50 murder charges

New Zealand mosque attacker Tarrant to face 50 murder charges

The man accused of being behind the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges Friday, the New Zealand police said in a statement.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with one murder the day after the attack and remanded without a plea.

The Federal Criminal Police Office said it briefed lawmakers on its investigation into ties the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker had to Germany, including buying a ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle last November.

The media were permitted to take photographs during Tarrant's first court hearing on March 16, but images of him were distorted before they were published or distributed to foreign news companies, Stuff reported.

If found guilty, Tarrant faces life in prison without parole, something that has never happened in New Zealand before.

High court judge Cameron Mander gave the order as the Australian native appeared in the courtroom via a video link connected to prison.

He said reporters could remain throughout and take notes, although would be restricted in what they could report. The judge explained that from his end, Tarrant could see the judge and lawyers but not those in the public gallery.

Tofazzal Alam, 25, said he was at the Linwood mosque when the gunman attacked.

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The judge said Tarrant was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.

New Zealand's Department of Corrections said in an email they wouldn't answer questions such as where Tarrant was being held due to operational security reasons.

Local media have reported the accused had fired his lawyer and meant to represent himself at trial, raising concerns he could use the legal process to espouse white supremacist views.

Twelve media applications to film or record the appearance were declined by Mander.

He live-streamed himself as he opened fire in the packed Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers and then travelled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque.

The massacre, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled terrorism, was New Zealand's worst peacetime mass killing.

Tarrant was not on government watchlist in New Zealand or Australian.

It said he had no access to television, radio or newspapers and no visitors.

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