Mental health tests ordered for NZ shooting suspect
Published: 09:55 AM, 5 April 2019 Updated: 09:56 AM, 5 April 2019
The man accused of killing 50 people in last month's attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been ordered to undergo mental health tests.
He would be seen by experts to decide if he was fit to stand trial or insane, said high court judge Cameron Mander.
The suspect faces 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in the courtroom - packed with relatives of some of the victims - via video link from prison. He was not required to enter a plea.
On Friday morning, Judge Mander ordered that two assessments would be carried out to determine the state of the suspect's mental health.
The suspect listened intently during the short court hearing. He made no comments.
The suspect was able to see the judge and lawyers and hear the proceedings - but the camera was turned away from the public gallery.
The judge remanded him in custody, and his next court appearance is now due on 14 June.
50 people lost their lives in the shootings at two mosques in the city. It is the deadliest mass shooting attack New Zealand has ever seen.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it one of New Zealand's "darkest days". She has vowed to ban all types of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles.
The suspect was arrested on 15 March for his involvement in the shootings at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, both located in Christchurch.
He had allegedly first driven to the Al Noor mosque, parked nearby and began firing into the mosque as he walked in through the front entrance.
He allegedly fired on men, women and children inside for about five minutes. He live-streamed the attack from a head-mounted camera and identified himself in the footage.
The suspect is then said to have driven about 5km (three miles) to the Linwood mosque where the second shooting occurred.
The gunman, armed with semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15, is believed to have modified his weapons with high-capacity magazines - the part of the gun which stores ammunition - so they could hold more bullets.
He is currently being kept in isolation at the Auckland Prison in Paremoremo, considered New Zealand's toughest. - BBC
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