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Mosque Massacre: New Zealand gives life sentence to killer

NEWSMAN – A self-confessed Brenton Tarrant has been sentenced to life without parole for killing 51 Muslims as they prayed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The 29-year-old Australian is the first to be sentenced to life without parole by a court in New Zealand, after he pleaded guilty earlier this year to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the March 2019 rampage in the southern city, which he streamed live on Facebook.

In delivering the sentence, High Court Judge Cameron Mander said on Thursday that a finite term was insufficient for such a crime and that Tarrant had shown no remorse.

“Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation. As far as I can discern, you are empty of any empathy for your victims, the hatred that lies at the heart of your hostility to particular members of the community that you came to this country to murder has no place here – it has no place anywhere,” Mander said.

The killer through a lawyer in court on Thursday said that he did not oppose the sentence. Dressed in grey prison clothes and surrounded by guards, Tarrant did not react to the sentence. ALJAZEERA reported

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, upon hearing of Tarrant’s sentencing, said she was relieved “that person will never see the light of day”. The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed, but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence,” she said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, also welcomed Tarrant’s sentencing, he said “Justice was today delivered to the terrorist and murderer for his cowardly and horrific crimes in Christchurch. It is right that we will never see or hear from him again”. 

victims of the ChristChurch massacre./BBC.com

Christchurch Mosque Massacre

The entire incident which was broadcast on Facebook Live via a headcam, had the 29-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant open fire on two mosques in the city on 15 March last year.

He first targeted worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque, and less than 30 seconds later, he returned to his car to pick up another weapon and then re-entered the mosque and resumed firing on those inside.

He then drove to the Linwood Islamic Centre where he shot two people outside and then shot at the windows.

A man from inside rushed outside and picked up one of the attacker’s shotguns before chasing him away. BBC reported

After his arrest, Tarrent told police that his plan was to burn down mosques after his attack and he wished he had done so. He later revealed during this week’s sentencing that he still planned to target another mosque but was detained by officers on the way.

Reactions from survivors and relatives

During the four-day sentence hearing, survivors and family members recounted the horror of the attacks and the trauma they continue to feel.

While some of the aggrived people spoke to the gunman angrily, calling him a monster and a coward, some others recited verses from the Quran or addressed him in Arabic , and a few spoke softly to him, saying they forgave him.

Sara Qasem, whose father Abdelfattah Qasem died at the Al Noor Mosque, spoke of the last moments of his death, saying: “I wonder if he was in pain, if he was frightened, and what his final thoughts were. And I wish more than anything in the world that I could have been there to hold his hand and tell him it would all be OK.”

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the attack at the Al Noor mosque, said he felt relieved at the sentence. “The justice system has locked up this ideology forever.” The Associated Press news agency reported.

Taj Kamran, an Afghan refugee who was shot several times in the leg and still requires walking aids, said he would “be able to sleep” after the verdict, though it would not return those who were lost.

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