Extremist behind New Zealand Mosque Massacre Charged With Murder
By Staff, Agencies
A right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a shooting rampage that left 49 mosque-goers dead flashed a white power gesture as he appeared in a New Zealand court Saturday charged with murder.
Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, sitting impassively as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.
The former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look at media present in court during the brief hearing that was held behind closed doors for security reasons.
He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance scheduled for April 5.
Forty-two people are still being treated in hospital for injuries, including a four year old child, after an attack thought to be the deadliest directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.
Outside the court, guarded by heavily armed police in body armor, the sons of 71-year-old Afghan man Daoud Nabi demanded justice.
"It's outrageous, the feeling is outrageous," he said. "It's beyond imagination."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday the victims were from across the Muslim world, with Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among the countries rendering consular assistance.
Ardern described the spree killing as a terrorist attack and said the shooter -- who was not on any watch list and did not have a criminal record -- had legally purchased the two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and lever-action gun he used.
"The offender was in possession of a gun license" obtained in November 2017, and he started purchasing the weapons the following month, she said.
"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now -- our gun laws will change," she vowed.
The suspect documented his radicalization and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right "manifesto."