The man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch mosques attack has been charged with terrorism. Brenton Tarrant is already facing charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder following the attack on two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March. The accused is an Australian citizen and he will appear in the court in June.
New Zealand police said, “The charge alleges that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch.” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has characterised the mosque killings a well-planned “terrorist attack. But until now the charges against him were less expansive, as New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act was only introduced in 2002 and is untested in the courts. It is the first time a person has been charged in New Zealand with an act of terror under this law.
Police, who met with victims’ families and other survivors to inform them of the charge before it was announced, said they consulted with legal experts and prosecutors before deciding to lay the additional charge.
Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is currently in a high-security prison. He is undergoing tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 14.