New Delhi:The person accused of killing 51 people in the attack on mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city has been charged with terrorism for the first time on Tuesday, police said. The accused, Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 cases of murder and 40 attempted murder over the March 15 attacks, AFP reported.
“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 more than two months after the attack was made following consultation 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 for the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history.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.