Total change of strategy. While he had pleaded not guilty, the Australian accused of the Islamophobic attack that killed 51 people on March 15, 2019 in two mosques in Christchurch, in New Zealand, surprised this Thursday by pleading guilty to all the counts of accusation retained against him.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Muslim community expressed their relief, this guilty plea avoiding a trial. Scheduled to last six weeks, it was due to open on June 2 in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, but everyone feared that it would serve as a platform for this white Australian supremacist, who had taken care to film live his attack.
He showed no emotion
"Yes, guilty," said Brenton Tarant from Paremoremo prison, near Auckland, via video connection to the Christchurch High Court. With a hard, emaciated face, he showed no emotion.
The hearing had not been announced to the general public. The killer contacted his lawyers, Me Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson on Tuesday - also new, since he said he did not need it - after which this hearing was organized, said police commissioner Mike Bush. "The police understand that this news will surprise the victims and the public, some would have liked to be present at the hearing," he said in a statement. He said the imams of the two mosques, Al Noor and Linwood, were among the seventeen people authorized to attend the video hearing on Thursday.
The 29-year-old has so far denied all 51 murder charges, 40 attempted murder charges and one other terrorist act charge.
Justice Cameron Mander clarified that the accused would receive his sentence later. "The guilty plea represents a very important step towards the finalization of this criminal procedure," noted the judge, adding that the sentencing hearing would only occur when the pandemic of the new coronavirus is over in order to "allow victims and their families to come to court in person. ”
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Since the death penalty does not exist in New Zealand, Tarant could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Tarant could have been the first person in New Zealand criminal history to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Jarrod Gilbert, director of criminal justice at the University of Canterbury, asked himself on Twitter: "I wonder if his guilty plea reduces that probability."
I would have bet anything you like that this would have been our first sentence of life without parole. I wonder if his guilty plea reduces the likelihood of that. https://t.co/jv0sj6yN83- Jarrod Gilbert (@JarrodGilbertNZ) March 25, 2020
Another question that agitates the Kiwi opinion: Brenton Tarrant will he leave the country, as soon as he has admitted his guilt? New Zealand law provides that anyone convicted of a criminal offense within ten years of obtaining the right to reside in the country, if sentenced to five years or more in prison, is automatically liable to expulsion. The whole question is whether this eviction takes place during or after the execution of the sentence.