Wellington (hooly News) – The Australian accused of killing 51 people in March 2019 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, surprised Thursday by pleading guilty to all the charges against him.
"Yes, guilty," said Brenton Tarrant from Auckland prison, via video connection to the Christchurch High Court.
Dressed in a gray top, the 29-year-old man fixed his gaze on the camera by making this statement.
He had so far always denied the 51 murder charges, the 40 attempted murder charges and one other terrorist act charge. Without explanation at this stage, he changed his position after a hastily organized hearing and kept secret for the general public for fear that he would give up at the last moment.
This means that he will not be tried during a trial. His – for which the authorities feared he would take advantage of it to convey his racist ideas – was due to open on June 2 in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. It was to last six weeks.
For Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who had decided never to pronounce the name of the killer, this admission of guilt will offer a kind of appeasement to the many people whose lives were battered by the attack.
"This guilty plea and conviction attributes responsibility for what happened and also spares families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial." , she noted.
The relief was palpable in the small New Zealand Muslim community at the announcement of this guilty plea, at the idea of not having to relive during a trial the details of this Friday in March 2019.
– "A good start" –
"I prayed for him and he went in the right direction," said Farid Ahmed, whose Husna wife was killed, on TVNZ. "I am delighted that he feels guilty. It is a good start."
Justice Cameron Mander clarified that the accused would receive his sentence later, on an unspecified date.
"The guilty plea represents a very important step towards the finalization of this criminal procedure," noted the judge, adding that the sentencing hearing would only occur when the pandemic of the new coronavirus is over in order to "allow victims and their families to come to court in person. "
The country is indeed fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected nearly 450,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 21,000 since December, and which has caused the confinement of a third of the inhabitants of the planet.
The guilty plaintiff intervened on the first day of a confinement of at least four weeks from New Zealand, which had 205 cases according to the last report published on Wednesday morning on the site of the Ministry of Health.
This epidemic led to the cancellation of the national tribute to the victims of the attack on March 15, 2019, which was to take place one year to the day after.
Brenton Tarrant, self-proclaimed white supremacist, is accused of having committed the largest mass killing on that day in modern New Zealand history.
Equipped with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, he successively opened fire in two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 people, all Muslims, including women and children. He filmed and broadcast the images of the carnage live on Facebook.
In the process, the government significantly tightened gun laws, banning military-type semi-automatic weapons (MSSA) like those used by the perpetrator of the massacre. A few months later, he went further to ensure that only "able-bodied" people could own a firearm.