White supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who live-streamed the massacre of 51 people in a mosque in Christchurch, News Zealand in March 2019, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by a New Zealand court on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Australian national admitted to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism - marking the first terrorism conviction in the history of New Zealand. This is also the harshest punishment given out in the country since the death penalty was abolished in 1961.
On March 15, 2019, Tarrant went on a rampage with a semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, shooting unarmed and unsuspecting Muslim worshipers after Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, killing men, women and children in the process. He reportedly took the life of a 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim during the rampage, who was his youngest victim.
The massacre made headlines all over the world when the offender live-streamed the whole act on Facebook live using a body-cam. The video received widespread attention and shares on the social media platform before it was taken town by Facebook.
According to news reports, Judge Cameron Mander, who handed down the sentence, called the offender "inhuman" and "showing no mercy". The BBC quoted Judge Mander as saying, "Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment."
Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes told the court that Tarrant regretted not having taken more lives, and even wanted to burn the mosque down to instill fear among Muslims.
"The other job that we have is making sure that he has no notoriety, that he has no platform, and that we have no cause to think about him, to see him, or to hear from him again," she added.
Between August 24 - August 26, Tarrant came face-to-face with survivors and families of his victims, who expressed themselves through the court proceedings, leading to highly tense and emotional moments. He chose not to speak in his defence.
The court proceedings were streamed on the internet, where Tarrant appeared emotionless to the statements of his victims.
#WATCH: The sentencing of #BrentonTarrant continued Wednesday. The court has heard 3 days of testimony from survivors & relatives of those killed in the #Christchurchmassacre https://t.co/ZDg3RkX9QW pic.twitter.com/BCNVpyw68S— Arab News (@arabnews) August 26, 2020
In the years leading up to the attack, Tarrant reportedly spent a considerable amount of time visiting fringe social media groups that resonated far-right statements. The Crown prosecutor also stated during the proceedings that Tarrant had spent years preparing for the attack to ensure maximum casualties.
Reports also claim that Tarrant was on his way to Ashburton Mosque to continue the massacre, before he was detained by the police.
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