Christchurch shooter admits 51 counts of murder


The man accused of attacking two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch city a year ago that left 51 people killed, pled guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism on Thursday.

51 people were killed and dozens wounded in the 15 March mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand's eastern city of Christchurch.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was praised around the world for her empathetic response to the Muslim community after the attacks, said it was "deeply disappointing" the victims didn't get to attend the hearing.

The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges during previous hearings.

The 29-year-old Australian made his confession during a special High Court hearing in Christchurch this morning.

Sentencing will take place at a date yet to be set.

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He also indicated that rents and utility bills could be suspended for small and medium-sized companies in distress. "I chose to further reinforce the measures to reduce our movement and our contacts to strictly necessary ones".

Due to a nationwide lockdown in place for the coronavirus outbreak, Thursday's court hearing took place with minimal staff, lawyers and media present. "Yes, guilty", Tarrant told the court via videolink from Auckland Prison on Thursday, as the charges were read out to him.

"The guilty pleas represent a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding", he said.

Bush said imams from the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, the ones targeted by Tarrant, were among only 17 people allowed in court to hear the revised plea. It was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history, and Tarrant was the first to be charged under the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act.

Police said Tarrant indicated he wanted to be brought before the court on Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting led to a dramatic and swift reform of New Zealand's gun laws including a ban on the ownership and sale of the semi-automatic weapons used in the attack.