Emergency services respond to the attack at a mosque in Christchurch. The Australian man accused of the attack now faces 50 murder charges.
Emergency services respond to the attack at a mosque in Christchurch. The Australian man accused of the attack now faces 50 murder charges. Mark Baker

Christchurch terror-accused faces 50 murder charges

THE Australian man accused of shooting 50 worshippers in a Christchurch mosque has been charged with 50 murders and 39 attempted murders.

Police have announced the fresh charges against Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who is due to appear in the High Court in Christchurch tomorrow.

They said other charges are still under consideration, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The 28-year-old first appeared in the District Court on March 16.

A day earlier, on March 15, 50 people were killed at the city's Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Dozens more were wounded.

The High Court received 12 applications from both New Zealand media and foreign organisations to film, take photographs, or make audio recordings at Friday's hearing.

But Justice Cameron Mander declined the applications.

In a minute issued to the media this week, he said factors in making his decision to refuse the requests were to preserve the integrity of the trial process and ensure a fair trial.

Journalists will, however, be permitted to remain in the courtroom and take notes, while newspapers and broadcasters are still able to use images of the accused which were taken at the District Court hearing.

The 28-year-old accused terrorist was remanded in custody at his first appearance and has since been held at New Zealand's only maximum security prison in Paremoremo, Auckland.

Justice Mander ruled the accused will appear in court on Friday via audiovisual link from prison instead.

Tarrant espoused radical views online and appeared in a horrifying live stream of the Christchurch terror attacks. Picture: YouTube
Tarrant espoused radical views online and appeared in a horrifying live stream of the Christchurch terror attacks. Picture: YouTube

This is not an uncommon practice - people appear in courts all across New Zealand everyday by way of a television screen.

The accused will not be required to enter pleas to charges he currently faces.

There is also the possibility the Crown will seek to try him under the seldom used Terrorism Suppression Act, which was introduced after the September 11 US terrorist attacks.

Section five of the legislation defines what a terrorist act is.

It states that it must be intended to cause death or destruction in one or more countries, be carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political or religious cause, and intended to induce terror in a civilian population or compel a government to act.

Prosecutors would require the consent of the Solicitor-General to lay terror charges against the accused.

The purpose of the hearing on Friday will be to determine the alleged killer's legal representation status and to receive information from the Crown.

The Herald earlier reported the Australian man will represent himself in court.

Friday's hearing will also be largely procedural, with timetabling and future dates allocated by the judge.



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