Published: Thu, March 26, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

New Zealand mosque shooter pleads guilty in surprise move

New Zealand mosque shooter pleads guilty in surprise move

The man accused of murdering 51 people in the terror attacks on two Christchurch mosques past year has today admitted he carried out the killings.

"The guilty pleas to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act were taken via an audio-visual link from Auckland Prison", commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.

The trial, which was scheduled for June, has now been canceled, and a sentencing date has yet to be confirmed.

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.

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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. Tarrant faces life imprisonment, with the judge having some discretion in deciding the minimum number of years Tarrant must serve before becoming eligible for parole.

The change in plea came less than two weeks after New Zealanders commemorated those who died during the attacks on March 15, 2019.

"These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial", Ardern said.

The plea came with New Zealand in its first day of a four-week COVID-19 lockdown.

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