A white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand will serve life in jail without parole, being the first person in the country’s history to receive the sentence.
Australian Brenton Tarrant ( 29) was charged with the murder of 51 people while he failed his attempt to murder another 40 people and one charge of terrorism. The attack was livestreamed last March.
This act that shook the entire world started with the gunman opening fire on two mosques in the city on 15 March last year. He first targeted worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque. Less than 30 seconds later, he returned to his car to pick up another weapon and then re-entered the mosque and resumed firing on those inside.
The entire incident was broadcast on Facebook Live via a headcam he was wearing. He then drove to the Linwood Islamic Centre where he shot two people outside and then shot at the windows. A man from inside rushed outside and picked up one of the attacker’s shotguns before chasing him away.
Two police officers then chased and arrested the gunman. After his arrest, he told police that his plan was to burn down mosques after his attack and he wished he had done so. During this week’s sentencing, the court heard that the gunman planned to target another mosque but was detained by officers on the way.
The judge called Tarrant’s actions “inhuman”, saying he “showed no mercy” and sentenced him to lifetime imprisonment without parole which in Justice Mander’s words are reserved only for the “very worst murders”. This sentencing also marks the first terrorism conviction in New Zealand’s history, which does not have the death penalty as a part of its justice system. A sentence without parole means the offender will not be given the opportunity to leave prison after serving only a portion of their total sentence. “Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment,” said Judge Cameron Mander in a Christchurch court on Thursday.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, upon hearing of Tarrant’s sentencing, said it meant he would have “no notoriety, no platform… and we have no cause to think about him, to see him or to hear from him again”. “Today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist,” she said.
Further, the shootings prompted New Zealand to pass stricter gun laws and buy back certain types of weapons from owners.