The Australian man accused of killing 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March pleaded not guilty to all charges in a court on Friday. In an attack broadcast live on Facebook, the lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in New Zealand’s worst peace time mass shooting.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared by video link and entered his plea through his lawyers. High Court Justice Cameron Mander said the trial will begin on May 4 next year. Tarrant stood facing the camera from a high security facility in Auckland, mostly with an impassive expression but smirking at times including as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
The New York Times reports:
Brenton Tarrant’s denial of guilt means survivors of the March 15 attacks, their families, and the families of those who were killed must prepare for a lengthy and emotional trial that will pose many logistical and security challenges for officials.
It will also force New Zealand’s court system to consider how to prevent Mr. Tarrant from using the trial as a platform for his self-proclaimed white supremacist views.
If found guilty at trial, Mr. Tarrant, 28, faces the prospect of life in prison without parole, a sentence that has never been handed down in New Zealand but which can be awarded at a judge’s discretion. The longest previous murder sentence in the country was 30 years without parole for a man who killed three people.
Killed 50 in New Zealand
Says Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity”
Pipe bombs to CNN
Attended Trump rallies
Christopher Paul Hasson
Hit list of Democrats
Worried about Trump impeachment
Waffle House killer
Wanted to meet Trump pic.twitter.com/dH4cSRVUY1
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 17, 2019