FILE PHOTO: Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is seen in the dock during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via REUTERS

New Zealand terrorist, murderer of 51, pleads ‘not guilty’

The accused of the two Mosques shooting in New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15 in which 51 worshippers were shot to death, has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to multiple murder and terrorism charges.

Appearing in Christchurch High Court via an audiovisual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland, 28 year old Australian Brenton Tarrant on Friday pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the attack that happened in March. The court said that it would begin the trial in May next year.

Tarrant’s lawyer, Shane Tait, on the behalf of Tarrant, had entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the court. Tarrant who faced the camera with mostly impassive expression, had smirked at the time when Tait pleaded the ‘not guilty’ to the charges. Around 80 family members of the victims were present at the court and saw the accused pleading not guilty from the back of the court.

Tarrant has been remanded in custody until August 15, when the next case review hearing is scheduled.

In an attack broadcast live on Facebook, the lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15, in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting.

Tarrant has been charged with 91 cases of crimes – 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder, including the first degree terrorism act. This is the first time a ‘terrorism charge’ has been brought into the country.

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