The Australian white supremacist who killed nearly 51 Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand last year, was confronted the survivors of his attack on Monday as the sentencing hearing got underway. For the rampage, Brenton Tarrant is likely to be jailed for life.
In March, Tarrant pleaded guilty and was convicted of 51 murders, 40 attempted murders, and one charge of terrorism. The family of the victims and the survivors will speak at the four-day hearing. The hearing will take place at the courthouse in Christchurch, the city where Tarrant attacked in March last year.
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The first session of the hearing started on Monday, but the coronavirus restriction in place means that the courthouse was relatively empty. Earlier, Tarrant had denied all the charges and was due to face trial in June, before reversing his plea to guilty.
However, he now faces a minimum of 17 years in prison, but the judge hearing this case has the power to sentence him to life imprisonment with no parole, a sentence that has never been imposed in New Zealand.
At the sentencing hearing, nearly 60 people are expected to give in-person victim impact statements. Some traveled oversees and undergone a two-week quarantine just to take part in the hearing. Meanwhile, hundreds of others will watch the proceedings on videos feeds from other courts in the city to allow for social distancing measures.
However, the proceedings will not be shown to the general public. Earlier this month, Judge Mander said that the court would have the power to restrict the publication of victim statements if needed.
March’s attack by Tarrant, in which he attacked two mosques and live-streamed the attack on various media platforms, sent shockwaves around the globe and prompted the government in New Zealand to make changes in its gun laws.
Less than a month after the unfortunate attack, the country’s parliament voted in banning all the semi-automatic military-style guns across the country. The government offered the owners to compensate them in a buy-back scheme.
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