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In Court on Charges of Murder, New Zealand Shooter Smirks, Flashes 'White Power Sign'

Flashing an upside-down 'okay' signal, a white power symbol used globally, he smirked in his prison clothes, when media photographed him in the dock, flanked by two police officers.


Updated:March 16, 2019, 8:13 AM IST
In Court on Charges of Murder, New Zealand Shooter Smirks, Flashes 'White Power Sign'
Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is seen in the dock during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand. (Image: Reuters)

New Delhi: Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant, a right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a rampage that left 49 mosque-goers dead, stood in the dock on Saturday morning wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read a single murder charge against him.

Flashing an upside-down “okay” signal, a white power symbol used globally, he smirked in his prison clothes, when media photographed him in the dock, flanked by two police officers, reported New Zealand Herald. Tarrant made an appearance from custody at Christchurch District Court.

Tarrant, who is accused of murdering a man whose name was suppressed by Judge Paul Kellar on grounds of undue hardship to his family, was remanded in custody without plea to the High Court in Christchurch on April 5.

Throughout the hearing, the former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist, remained silent and occasionally turned at the media present in court during the brief hearing that the public were excluded from for security reasons.

Duty lawyer Richard Peters said no application for bail would be made and no application for name suppression was made. However, the judge ordered against images showing Tarrant's face in the court from being published as his identity might be a feature of the court case.

A short distance away, 39 people were being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds and other injuries inflicted in the massacre. They included a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, who is in critical condition.

The attack on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques has been labelled terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.

One Saudi citizen and two Jordanians were among the dead, while nine Indian and five Pakistani citizens were missing.

The attack has prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in this usually peaceful and hospitable country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

Ardern, who arrived in Christchurch Saturday, said the shooter was not on any watchlist and did not have a criminal record.

"The offender was in possession of a gun licence" obtained in November 2017, and he started purchasing the weapons the following month, she said.

Two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and lever-action gun were used in the attacks

Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in a car and neutralised by the military, while police raided a home in the southern city of Dunedin, where Ardern said the suspect was based.

The suspect documented his radicalisation and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right "manifesto".

He live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away in the main Christchurch mosque.

Thirty-six minutes after the police received the first call, Tarrant was in custody.

Two other people remain in custody, although their link to the attack is not clear. One man, an 18-year-old Alexander Bryan has been charged with incitement.

Another person who was earlier arrested was said to be a member of the public carrying a firearm who was trying to help.

US President Donald Trump condemned the "horrible massacre" in which "innocent people have so senselessly died", but denied that the problem of right-wing extremism was widespread.

In a letter to Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed "deep shock and sadness" over the death of scores of people in the heinous terrorist attack in New Zealand while stressing India's strong condemnation of terrorism and of all those who support such acts of violence.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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