A man convicted a year ago of deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch’s New Zealand city has pleaded guilty to 51 murder charges.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, also confirmed the attempted murder of another 40 men, and one charge of terrorism.
He had denied the charges previously and was scheduled to go on court in June.
The gun attacks at two mosques have sent shockwaves worldwide. Fresh Zealand put in tougher gun controls in the aftermath of the murders.
New Zealand is in a lockdown condition due to the coronavirus outbreak and on Thursday, the appeal was made at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch High Court.
No audience members were allowed into the hearing and Tarrant, from New South Wales, Australia, and his lawyers appeared via video link.
A representative of the two mosques attacked was given permission to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.
Judge Justice Mander said: “It is disappointing that theCovid-19 conditions currently in effect will not require victims and their relatives to travel to the courthouse until the defendant has filed his pleas of guilty.” The sentencing of the 92 charges will take place on a date yet to be set. Tarrant was custody remanded until May 1st.
In the attack on Al Noor Mosque (Masjid An-Nur), Farid Ahmed, who lost his wife Husna, told TVNZ that many would be glad they didn’t have to go through the trial, but some would feel very sad, always thinking of their loved ones.
Speaking of the shooter, he said: “I prayed for him and he took the right path. I am glad that he feels bad, it’s a good start.”
How did the attacks unfold?
The shootings began on 15 March 2019 when the gunman drove to Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque, entered the building and started shooting.
He returned to his car less than 30 seconds later, picked up another weapon, then re-entered the mosque, and resumed his attack.
He had been wearing headcam footage showing him running from room to room, killing as he went. The shooting was broadcast on Facebook Live.
He then went to the mosque in Linwood where he shot two men outside and then fired in the door.
A man came out from the inside of the mosque, picked up one of the shotguns of the gunman, and chased him away.
The perpetrator was then chased and arrested by two police officers.