Asia-Pacific News

New Zealand police say accused gunman to face 50 murder charges

Key Points
  • Australian Brenton Tarrant accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers in gun attacks in Christchurch will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges, New Zealand police said on Thursday.
  • He is due back in court on Friday.
  • The March 15 attack was the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in New Zealand.
General view of media in front of the Christchurch District Court where the suspected shooter Brenton Tarrant appeared on March 16, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Kai Schwoerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Australian man arrested over New Zealand's mosques shooting massacre will face a total of 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in court on Friday, police said.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with one murder the day after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 and was remanded without a plea.

Fifty people were killed and dozens wounded as they attended Friday prayers by a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons. The gunman broadcast his attack live on Facebook.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the massacre, the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in New Zealand, as a "terrorist attack" and some legal experts thought it could result in charges under New Zealand's terrorism laws.

Tarrant is due to appear in Christchurch's High Court through a video link at 1000 local time (2100 GMT) on Friday.

A High Court judge said in court minutes this week that the appearance would largely be procedural and that Tarrant would not be required to enter a plea to the charges he faced. 

"The principal purpose of the call on 5 April will be to ascertain the defendant's position regarding legal representation and to receive information from the Crown regarding certain procedural steps and when it is envisaged those steps will be completed," said Judge Cameron Mander.

Police said on Thursday that other charges are still under consideration.