Brenton tarrant, the Australian man who pleaded guilty to killing fifty-one Moslem worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019, has now opted to represent himself at next month’s sentencing hearing.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tarrant pleaded guilty to fifty-one counts of murder, forty counts of attempted murder and one count of committing a terrorist act.
His guilty plea made a six-week trial scheduled to commence in June redundant.
But the New Zealand high court ruled on Monday that the twenty-seven-year-old shooter’s decision to represent himself would not affect the sentencing hearing set to begin on August 24.
The presiding judge, Cameron Mander, approved Mr. Tarrant’s request in a pre-trial video call after he was satisfied that he understood his rights to have legal representation and that he wished to waive those rights.
Dismissing insinuations in some quarters that their client no longer had confidence in them, Mr. Tarrant’s lawyers, who have been his representatives since his second court appearance on April 5 last year, said there was no “conflict or relationship breakdown” between them and him. His request to represent himself was consistent with his rights, they stressed.
The sentencing date was formally confirmed in the presence of shooting survivors and family liaison representatives, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Mr. Tarrant has been in police custody since March 15, 2019, when he was arrested and accused of using semi-automatic weapons to target Muslims attending Friday prayers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
The so-called Christchurch killings ranks as New Zealand’s worst mass shooting. The horrifying scenes of carnage galvanized and united 4 million New Zealanders against terrorismand religious extremism.
Live streaming of the attacks via the helmet camera carried by Mr. Tarrant also sparked international outrage.