Christchurch Shooting: New Zealand shooter smirks in courtroom
Brenton Tarrant was also seen making a white supremacist sign with his hand during the hearing
Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant, who is the main suspect in the massacre of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, showed no remorse as he appeared in a court here on Saturday and smirked as the judge read a single murder charge against him.
The right-wing extremist who filmed himself during the Friday rampage, appeared before the Christchurch district court in a white prison jumpsuit, handcuffed and barefoot. Flanked by two police officers, he smirked when media photographed him and was seen making a white supremacist sign with his hands, The New Zealand Herald reported.
A 2016 image of Tarrant taken in Turkey. Officials said he travelled to the country multiple times.
The Australian stood silently during the brief hearing as he was charged with one count of murder. He was remanded in custody without plea and is due to appear in court on April 5. Judge Paul Kellar allowed photos to be taken but ordered that the face of the former fitness instructor be blurred to preserve fair-trial rights.
Two other people were in custody over the incident. None of those detained had a criminal record.
With 49 people killed in the mosque attacks, it was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history. Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspect's car was full of weapons, suggesting "his intention to continue with his attack".
He had obtained a gun licence in November 2017 that allowed him to buy the weapons used in the attack. Ardern said that the guns appeared to have been modified. "The mere fact... that this individual had acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I'm committing to that," she said.
She said the proposed reforms, which will be the focus of a Cabinet meeting on Monday, will also focus on the ease with which legal weapons can be modified to become military-style assault rifles, which are more strictly controlled.
Gunman sent manifesto to PM before attack
The New Zealand Prime Minister's Office said on Saturday that it received a copy of a "manifesto" from the alleged gunman less than 10 minutes before the attacks began at the two Christchurch mosques on Friday, along with about 70 other recipients. Other politicians on the mailing list included National leader Simon Bridges and Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard. "It does not set out what he was about to do. It was written as if it had occurred, to explain what obviously was about to play out", an official said.
Rural cops brought down accused: NZ PM
Jacinda Ardern hailed the bravery of a pair of rural New Zealand police officers, who arrested the suspected Christchurch gunman 36 minutes after authorities were alerted. Ardern said the alleged attacker, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, would surely have killed even more people than the 49 worshippers he massacred in two mosques were it not for the policemen. "The offender was mobile, there were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in, and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack," he told reporters.
Semi-automatic weapons face ban
New Zealand will ban semi-automatic rifles, Attorney-General David Parker said on Saturday and was greeted loudly by a crowd on vigil after the horrific killing of 49 people in Christchurch shootings Parker was meeting a vigil group at the Auckland's Aotea Square.
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