New Zealand shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant faces 50 murder charges

04/06/2019 03:00 | NaN

New Zealand shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant faces 50 murder charges

Friday's hearing at the Christchurch High Court, where Tarrant will appear via an audio-visual link, will be to establish his legal representation - if any, as he has previously said he would represent himself, Radio New Zealand reported.

The gunman accused of the Christchurch terror attack is facing 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges.

A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered the accused Christchurch mosque gunman to undergo a mental health assessment to determine if he is fit to face trial for the murder of 50 Muslim worshippers.

Tarrant was charged with one murder the day after the attack and was remanded without a plea.

The 28-year-old, a self-confessed white supremacist, sat still with an impassive face during the preliminary hearing, in contrast to his first court appearance when he smirked at the media and appeared to flash a white nationalist hand signal. He was not required to submit a plea.

Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is seen in the dock during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court.

He appeared via video handcuffed and seated, wearing a grey prison t-shirt.

His manner was calm thoughout the hearing as he intently listened to the proceedings; his screen was muted.

The courtroom's public gallery was packed by about 50 friends and families of the victims, some staring quietly at the defendant throughout.

The Federal Criminal Police Office said it briefed lawmakers on its investigation into ties the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker had to Germany, including buying a ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle last November.

Tarrant's court appearance comes as the New Zealand government moves to rapidly approve legislation banning semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, in an effort to ensure similar attacks can never happen again. Lawyers said it could take two or three months to complete.

Mander said the tests are a normal step and there is no other reason behind them.

"On the magnitude of this, you would basically say it is only going to be far more than anything we've ever seen before", she said. "He can still give evidence.that's possible, but if he's represented by lawyers and it goes to trial he won't be asking questions of people".

Although journalists were able to attend and take notes, coverage of the hearing was restricted.

The Crown also sought an interim suppression order for the victims relating to the 39 attempted murder charges.

He had travelled extensively since 2010 before settling in the New Zealand city of Dunedin.

In the March 15 attacks, 42 people were killed at the Al Noor mosque, seven were killed at the Linwood mosque and one more person died later.

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