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New Zealand’s Christchurch shooter pleads guilty to murder, terrorism

Ambulance staff tend to a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch. Photo / AP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

WELLINGTON, Mar 26, 2020, AFP. The man who committed the worst atrocity in New Zealand’s modern history when he slaughtered 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques unexpectedly pleaded guilty to all charges Thursday, The Asian Age reported.

The attacks targeting people praying at the mosques a year ago shocked the nation and prompted new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

It also prompted global changes to social media protocols after the gunman livestreamed his attack on Facebook, where it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The sudden turn in the case took survivors and relatives by surprise, and brought relief to people across New Zealand. Many had feared Australian white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant would try to use his trial as a platform to promote his views.

He’d outlined those views in a 74-page manifesto he published online shortly before the attacks.

Tarrant, 29, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism at the Christchurch High Court. He had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges and his trial had been scheduled to start in June.

Tarrant is the first person to be found guilty of terrorism in New Zealand under laws passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

The change in plea came less than two weeks after New Zealanders commemorated those who died on the anniversary of the March 15, 2019, attacks.

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