Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Accused Christchurch shooter ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment

Accused Christchurch shooter ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment

Police say the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges when he makes a court appearance on Friday.

New Zealand police on Thursday filed 49 counts of murder against Tarrant, bringing the total number of murder charges to 50.

Thousands of visitors to the reopened Al Noor mosque, where 42 people were killed, have offered condolences and sought to learn more about Islam, said Israfil Hossain, who recites the daily call to prayer there.

There were also more than two dozen reporters from New Zealand and around the world, along with eight police officers and several security staff.

While it was earlier reported the accused was considering representing himself at trial, he has now appointed two Auckland-based lawyers for the case.

The suspect - a self-avowed white supremacist - sat motionless throughout the hearing.

Brenton Tarrant's lawyer Shane Tait walks outside the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday.

He showed little emotion during the hearing and will next appear in court on June 14.

Tait on Friday said he was arranging for his client to receive psychiatric assessment and that the process would take "some months", according to court minutes.

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People embrace at the Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington, New Zealand, on March 17.

Fifty people died in the March 15 attacks on two mosques and another 50 were injured.

The court then made an order for two health assessors to prepare assessment reports to determine whether the defendant is mentally impaired and whether he is fit to stand trial.

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

Alam said he felt upset seeing Tarrant. "He looks all right", Alam said.

Nabi had attempted to attend the accused's first court appearance but was prevented from entering the courtroom. Sorry for my friends who have been killed.

Following the incident, New Zealand has tightened gun laws while the country's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been hailed for her prompt actions and support following the terror acts.

The government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech.

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