Christchurch Massacre Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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Rabat – June 14 – Brenton Tarrant, the Australian extremist charged with the murder of 51 Muslims in March in Christchurch, New Zealand, has pleaded “not guilty”. The trial will begin in May 2020, announced the judge.

The defendant appeared in an audio-visual transmission from the Auckland High Security Prison aired in the court of Christchurch. Tarrant’s lawyer, Shane Tait, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

On screen, Tarrant showed little to no emotion except for a smirk when his lawyer entered the not guilty plea.

The decision to plead not guilty triggered a wave of anger among the victim’s families attending the hearing. Outside the court, Yama Nabi, whose father was killed in the shootings, expressed how the prospect of a trial was “hurtful for the families”.

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Janna Ezat, who lost her son at the Al Noor mosque, cried after learning that the trial would proceed, saying “I’m so frustrated”.

Brenton Tarrant, who identifies as a white supremacist, is charged with 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one act of terrorism.

On March 15, the 28-year-old Australian opened fire  two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers. He live streamed the attack on Facebook.

Judge Cameron Mander released a statement shortly after the hearing. The judge confirmed that psychiatric assessments conducted during Tarrant’s detention had established that he was mentally fit to stand trial.

The judge set the opening of the trial to May 4, 2020. The defendant’s attorney Shane Tait said the trial should last about six weeks. A further hearing is scheduled for August 15th.

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