White supremacist pleads guilty to New Zealand mosque attack
The Australian man charged with murdering 51 Muslim worshipers in a New Zealand mosque attack in March last year has changed his plea to guilty.
Brenton Tarrant faces 92 overall charges including 51 counts of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act.
The 29-year-old has previously pleaded not guilty and was due to face trial in June.
The gun attacks at the two mosques led New Zealand to implement stricter gun laws.
Tarrant entered his please at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch High Court on Thursday because New Zealand is in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
No members of the public were allowed into the hearing and Tarrant appeared via video link, from New South Wales, Australia, along with his lawyers.
A representative of the two mosques that were attacked was allowed to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.
“He has been convicted of each and every one of those charges,” Justice Cameron Mander said after court was adjourned.
“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding.”
The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the admission of guilt is a step in the right direction for the families affected by the shooting.
“The guilty plea will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Ardern said in a statement.
He will be remanded in custody until his next court appearance on May 1.