A white supremacist who killed 51 Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand last year watched without emotion on Monday as relatives of his victims recounted the horror of the massacre.
Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 29, has pleaded guilty to 51 murders and 40 attempted murders. He is facing one charge of committing a terrorist act during the shooting rampage in the city of Christchurch which he live-streamed on Facebook.
He could be the first person in New Zealand to receive a term of life in prison without parole. A High Court judge will sentence him later this week. The Christchurch incident was the deadliest shooting in the country’s history.
Brenton Tarrant – The emotionless shooter
Dressed in grey prison clothes, Tarrant looked at those delivering victim impact statements. Family members also included the mother of Ata Elayyan. He was a 33-year-old goalkeeper for the New Zealand futsal team who was slain in the Al Noor mosque, according to Reuters.
Maysoon Salama said she constantly wondered what her son was thinking in his last moments “armed only with his courage”.
“I can’t forgive you … you gave yourself the authority to take the souls of 51 people. Our only crime in your eyes is that we are Muslims,” she said.
"I can't forgive you. You gave yourself the authority to take the souls of 51 innocent people, their only crime in your eyes is being Muslims."
Victims’ families give emotional statements at sentencing of New Zealand’s Christchurch mosque shooter. pic.twitter.com/Nq3RCrxVly @eNCA
— Riyaad Dhai (@DhaiRiyaad) August 24, 2020
“You killed your own humanity and I don’t think the world will forgive you for your horrible crime. May you get the severest punishment for your evil act in this life, and hereafter.”
Elayyan was near the back of the mosque while his father, near the front, survived the attack despite being shot in the head and shoulder.
Gamal Fouda, imam of Al Noor mosque, told Tarrant that he was “misguided and misled”.
“I can say to the family of the terrorist that they have lost a son and we have lost many from our community too,” Fouda said.
“I respect them because they are suffering as we are.”
Tarrant will be allowed to speak at some point during the hearings, although Justice Cameron Mander has powers to ensure the High Court is not used as a platform for extremist ideology.
The hearings were later adjourned until Tuesday morning. The New Zeland shootings prompted a global outpouring of grief as well as scrutiny of social media platforms after Tarrant live-streamed the shootings after uploading a manifesto.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below!