Suspected Christchurch gunman to face 50 murder charges

Last Modified Thursday, 4 April 2019 (11:06 IST)
The man suspected of carrying out the Christchurch mosque shootings is to be charged with 50 counts of murder, police say. He is due to appear in court on Friday.
The Australian man accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers in a shooting spree at two mosques in New Zealand will be charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder at a second court appearance on Friday, New Zealand police say.
Police added that other charges "are still under consideration." The suspect had earlier had a single representative murder charge filed against him for the killings on March 15.
Brief court appearance
The man, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, will appear via video link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland.The hearing is to "ascertain the defendant's position regarding legal representation" and other procedural issues."

The man will not be required to enter a plea, the court said.He has sacked a court-appointed lawyer, raising fears that he wants to use the trial to propagate white supremacist views.
Wounded still in hospitals
Twenty-four people are still in hospital receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the attack, four of them critical, including a 4-year-old girl, health authorities said earlier this week.
What consequences has New Zealand drawn from the attacks? New Zealand has moved quickly to tighten its previously lax gun laws, among other things banning the semi-automatic and automatic military-style weapons used in the attack. The government has said it will also review laws dealing with hate speech.
Will the accused be tried for terrorism? Although the attacks have been termed a terrorist act by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, using New Zealand anti-terrorism laws, introduced after the 9/11 attacks, are little used and could make prosecution more complicated. Prosecutors may still apply them to make it clear that extremism of any kind, whether Islam, right-wing or left-wing, is equally dangerous. Charges of murder and attempted murder are easier to pursue, however.