New Zealand mosque murder suspect appears in court at Christchurch

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

An Australian, Brenton Tarrant, aged 28, appeared in Christchurch District Court, New Zealand yesterday, charged with one count of murder pertaining to a mass shooting in Christchurch on Friday, which caused the death of at least 50 people. Judge Paul Kellar ordered the accused remain in custody until his next court appearance on April 5.

Police alleged the accused performed two attacks. The first attack reportedly was in Al Noor Mosque at about 13:40 local time (0040 UTC), which left at least 42 people dead. The second attack reportedly was in Linwood Mosque, killing at least eight people, on the same day. Brenton Tarrant did not apply for bail. Further charges may be laid in the future, police said.

Police arrested the accused in the neighborhood of Strickland Street, 36 minutes after the mass shooting in Al Noor Mosque according to police. After his arrest on Friday, Brenton stayed in the Christchurch central police station overnight before appearing in court on the next day.

Brenton Tarrant had a valid gun licence allowing him to buy weapons, ABC reported. According to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Brenton had a licence for the five firearms he allegedly used for the attack — two semi-automatic, two shotguns, and one lever-action. Professor Greg Barton, Chair In Global Islamic Politics in the Faculty of Arts and Education at the Deakin University, said "The attacker was using a couple of guns, one was a shotgun, one was an AR-15 — that's the so-called civilian equivalent of the M-16. It's an assault rifle". The authorities seized these firearms.

Prime Minister Ardern said at a press conference yesterday morning the gun laws should be changed. She said, "I have instructed ODESC [Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination] to report to Cabinet on Monday on these events with a view to strengthening our systems on a range of fronts including, but not limited to, firearms, border controls, enhanced information-sharing with Australia, and any practice reinforcement of our watchlist processes."

Brenton also allegedly released an anti-Muslim document online, outlining political motivation, prior to the murders. Social media have been struggling to censor the alleged gunman's videos of the murder, according to reports.


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