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Christchurch attacker charged with terrorism: police

21 May 2019, MVT 14:12
This image grab from a self-shot video that was streamed on Facebook Live on March 15, 2019 by the man who was involved in two mosque shootings in Christchurch shows the man in his car before he entered the Masjid al Noor mosque. - A "right-wing extremist" armed with semi-automatic weapons rampaged through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers on March 15, killing 49 worshippers and wounding dozens more. (Photo by Handout / HANDOUT / AFP) / -----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES
21 May 2019, MVT 14:12

The man accused of shooting dead 51 Muslim worshippers in the Christchurch mosque attacks was formally charged with terrorism for the first time on Tuesday, New Zealand police said.

In addition to the terror charge, Brenton Tarrant also faces 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder over the March 15 attacks.

"The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch," police said in a statement.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has characterised the mosque killings a well-planned "terrorist attack" since the day Tarrant, a self-described white supremacist, allegedly carried them out.

But until now the charges against him were less expansive, as New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act was only introduced in 2002 and is untested in the courts.

Police said the decision to lay the terror charge was made after consultations with prosecutors and government legal experts.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is currently in a high security prison undergoing tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial.

His next court appearance is scheduled for June 14.

Police said they had met survivors and victims' families Tuesday to explain the additional charges.

"Police are committed to providing all the support necessary for what will be a challenging and emotional court process to come for the victim’s families and survivors of the attack," they said.

Wellington, New Zealand | AFP

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