Mosque gunman pleads guilty in New Zealand

Mosque gunman pleads guilty in New Zealand
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The man accused in the attack on two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques that killed dozens of people last March pleaded guilty to all charges on Thursday.

The Associated Press and Reuters reported that 29-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism-related charge. His plea will spare the country a lengthy trial over the attack, which is now known as the deadliest shooting in New Zealand's modern history.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the guilty plea “a certain sense of relief that the whole nation, but particularly our Muslim community, are being spared from a trial that could have otherwise acted as a platform," according to the AP.


“He has been convicted of each and every one of those charges,” added judge Justice Cameron Mander during the hearing, according to minutes of the proceedings obtained by Reuters.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding," Mander continued.

A lawyer working with families of Tarrant's victims told Reuters that the global attention focused on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic likely contributed to Tarrant's guilty plea.

“Any possible explanations are speculative but we do know terrorists are often seeking a sense of self-importance and attention to their cause,” Aarif Rasheed said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has removed that.”

Tarrant, who outlined white supremacist and anti-Muslim views in a manifesto before the shooting, had previously pleaded not guilty. His trial was set to start in June. A sentencing date has not yet been set.