Published: Mon, April 08, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

New Zealand Court Hands Down Charges To Alleged Christchurch Killer

New Zealand Court Hands Down Charges To Alleged Christchurch Killer

The 28-year-old Australian appeared in Christchurch High Court via video link overnight - with victim's families watching on.

They may relate to whether the court deems the attack a terrorist act, something Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly labelled the atrocity.

Tarrant is reportedly being held in New Zealand's only maximum security prison, in Auckland, and will appear in court via video, a common practice in New Zealand's legal system.

Tarrant had sacked his court appointed lawyer last month, saying he would represent himself.

Tarrant's first court appearance, the day after the shooting, was closed to the general public and Friday's hearing was the first chance for many to catch a glimpse of the accused.

He is accused of shooting dead 50 people and injuring dozens more after opening fire in two mosques during Friday prayers, live-streaming the killing spree on social media.

New Zealand Police have tweeted that other charges are still under consideration.

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Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said Tarrant had spent just 45 days in Australia over the past few years. During the first hearing, Tarrant made a hand gesture commonly used by white-supremacist groups.

Earlier this week a High Court judge ruled media would not be allowed to film or take photos of the accused when he appears.

Justice Cameron Mander formally recorded that a further 49 charges of murder and 39 of attempted murder had been filed by the Crown.

Retired law professor Bill Hodge said the idea behind obscuring his image was that the prosecution might need a witness to be sure he saw the gunman at the mosque rather than recognizing him from media stories.

"The principal goal of the call on 5 April will be to ascertain the defendant's position regarding legal representation and to receive information from the Crown regarding certain procedural steps and when it is envisaged those steps will be completed", Mander said, according to Reuters. The act of terrorism left the entire Muslim community shaken, with the worldwide community and locals showing their solidarity with the affected.

"You were quick to mention this is not the New Zealand that you know".

Prison authorities have confirmed he has had no access to television, radio, newspapers or visitors.

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