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New Zealand mosque shooting: 'Wicked and inhuman' Brenton Tarrant sentenced to life without parole

August 27, 2020

New Zealand mosque shooting: 'Wicked and inhuman' Brenton Tarrant sentenced to life without parole

White supremacist who murdered 51 people was handed the most severe punishment in the history of New Zealand

New Zealand mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for the live-streamed massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers last year, with a judge calling him "wicked" and "inhuman".

The judge imposed the maximum available sentence on the 29-year-old Australian, the first time the sentence has been imposed in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's prime minister, said Tarrant deserved a "lifetime of complete and utter silence".

Judge Cameron Mander said Tarrant's crimes were so wicked that a lifetime in jail could not begin to atone for them. He said they had caused enormous loss and hurt and stemmed from a warped and malignant ideology.

"Your actions were inhuman," Mr Mander said. "You deliberately killed a three-year-old infant as he clung to the leg of his father."

"It is incumbent on the court to respond in a way that decisively rejects such vicious malevolence."

The March 2019 attacks targeting people praying at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques shocked New Zealand and prompted new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

They also prompted global changes to social media protocols after the gunman livestreamed his attack on Facebook.

During the four-day sentencing hearing, 90 survivors and family members recounted the horror of the attacks and the trauma they continue to feel.

Some chose to yell at the gunman and stuck up their middle fingers. Others called him a "monster", a "coward" and a "rat". Some sung verses from the Quran or addressed him in Arabic. A few spoke softly to Tarrant, saying they forgave him.

Tarrant had earlier fired his lawyers and told the judge that he did not wish to speak at the hearing. A standby lawyer appointed by the court told the judge that Tarrant did not oppose a sentence of life without parole.

Tarrant in March had pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism, reversing his earlier not guilty pleas.

Prosecutors said Tarrant had flown a drone over the Al Noor mosque and researched the layout as he meticulously planned his attacks. He arrived with six guns including two AR-15s.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said he had aimed to kill as many people as possible.

"The offender's actions are a painful and harrowing mark in New Zealand's history," he said.

Tarrant was noticeably thinner in his sentencing hearing than when he was first arrested. He did not show the brazenness he did at his first court appearance the day after the attacks, when he made a hand gesture sometimes adopted by white supremacists.

Dressed in a grey prison tracksuit, Tarrant showed little emotion during his sentencing. He watched the speakers, occasionally giving a small nod or covering his mouth as he laughed at jokes, often made at his expense.

Sara Qasem spoke on Thursday during the four-day hearing about her beloved father Abdelfattah, who was killed in the attacks.

"All a daughter ever wants is her dad. I want to go on more road trips with him. I want to smell his garden-sourced cooking. His cologne," she said.

"I want to hear him tell me more about the olive trees in Palestine. I want to hear his voice. My dad's voice. My baba's voice."

Ms Ardern, who has refused to publicly say Tarrant's name, said: "I want to acknowledge the strength of our Muslim community who shared their words in court over the past few days. You relived the horrific events of March 15 to chronicle what happened that day and the pain it has left behind.

"Nothing will take the pain away but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process, and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow.

"The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it."

Courtesy : The Telegraph