Christchurch mosque attack
Suspect pleads not guilty to all 92 charges
Published: 12:03 PM, 14 June 2019 Updated: 12:37 PM, 14 June 2019
Brenton Tarrant. the main suspect of the Christchurch mosque attacks
The main suspect of the Christchurch attacks in March has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant is charged 92 charges including the murder of 51 people, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime mass shooting.
During the hearing, the prisoner sat silently as his lawyer read out his plea. A number of the survivors of the attack and relatives of the victims were in court for the hearing, reports BBC.
As lawyer Shane Tait read out his client's not guilty pleas, a number of those present gasped and became tearful.
High Court Justice Cameron Mander said the trial had been set for May 4 next year, and that Mr Tarrant would be remanded in custody until a case review hearing on August 16.
At his last court appearance in April, he was ordered to undergo mental health assessments to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.
In a statement, Judge Mander said on Friday, “No issue arises regarding the defendant's fitness to plead, to instruct counsel, and to stand his trial. A fitness hearing is not required.”
Meanwhile, this is the first time a terrorism charge has been brought in New Zealand.
Darkest day of New Zealand
On March 15, the suspect was arrested or his involvement in the shootings at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, both located in Christchurch.
He drove first to the Al Noor mosque, parked nearby and began firing into the mosque as he walked in through the front entrance.
He fired on men, women, and children inside for about five minutes. The attack was live-streamed from a head-mounted camera.
Then, the suspect drove about 5km (three miles) to the Linwood mosque and killed more people.
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.
Brenton Tarrant is currently being kept in isolation at the Auckland Prison in Paremoremo, considered New Zealand’s toughest prison.