New Zealand court to announce sentence for mosque shooter

A gunman who killed 51 Muslim worshippers last year in New Zealand’s deadliest shooting will be sentenced on Thursday.

WELLINGTON — A gunman who killed 51 Muslim worshippers last year in New Zealand’s deadliest shooting will be sentenced on Thursday, after three days of emotionally charged statements from his victims in court.

Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist, told the court in the city of Christchurch on Wednesday that he will not speak ahead of Justice Cameron Mander handing down his sentence, but will instead make a comment through a court-appointed lawyer.

The decision eased some concerns that Tarrant, who had elected to defend himself, would use his submission in court to talk about his extremist ideology.

The 29-year-old Australian initially pleaded not guilty to all charges against him but later admitted to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the 2019 shooting rampage at two Christchurch mosques which he livestreamed on Facebook.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge can impose a life term without parole, a sentence that has never been used in New Zealand.

Tarrant was largely emotionless through the last three days as more than 90 victims gave harrowing accounts of the attack and its traumatic impact on their lives.

The grieving victims rejected Tarrant’s white supremacist world view and urged the court to impose the toughest possible sentence.

Prosecutors have told the court that Tarrant wanted to instill fear in those he described as invaders and that he carefully planned the attacks to cause maximum carnage.