New Zealand Court Hands Down Charges To Alleged Christchurch Killer

Brenton Tarrant has been charged in relation to the Christchurch mosque massacre. Source AAPMore

Brenton Tarrant has been charged in relation to the Christchurch mosque massacre. Source AAPMore

Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with one murder the day after the attack and remanded without a plea.

Despite labelling the shooting an act of terrorism, authorities have not laid charges under New Zealand's anti-terror laws and have not said whether they intend to.

Mander suppressed the names of those Tarrant is accused of attempting to kill.

Armed police were outside as survivors and relatives of victims of the attack arrived at court.

A High Court judge said in court minutes this week that the appearance would largely be procedural and that Tarrant would not be required to enter a plea to the charges he faced. The judge did not set a trial date.

Tarrant spoke only once to confirm to the judge he was seated, although his voice didn't come through because the sound was muted. He had sacked a court-appointed lawyer after his first appearance in court.

"If he has lawyers, he will be speaking a lot less in court", said Graeme Edgeler, a Wellington-based barrister and legal commentator.

A document provided to media by the court today said a mental health assessment has been ordered for Tarrant.

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"Despite Mr Tait's reservations to that initiative.it's an appropriate step to take at this point to prevent delay", Mander said.

Police said further charges were being considered against Tarrant - a self-avowed white supremacist - but did not specify what they were.

The Pacific island nation does not have the death penalty and the longest previous sentence of prison time without parole was 30 years.

He was handcuffed when he appeared on the large screen inside the Christchurch courtroom, which was full of family members and victims of the shooting, some in wheelchairs and hospital gowns and still recovering from gunshot wounds. Some were emotional as they left the building.

Nabi said he felt helpless watching.

"Nobody wants their loved ones to come over here to see him", he said.

Tarrant's second court appearance comes three weeks after the attack, as the New Zealand government rushed to make changes to gun laws and investigate how he was able to carry out the attacks.

A ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles, like those used in the attack, are expected to be put in place by the end of next week.

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