New Zealand,Aug 27 – A far-right terrorist who killed 51 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand’s worst mass shooting in modern history will spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole, the first time such a sentence has been handed down in the country’s courts.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty earlier this year to murdering 51 men, women and children at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019. The youngest victim was just three years old.
The Australian citizen also pleaded guilty to 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism — he is the first person in New Zealand to be convicted of that crime.
Tarrant represented himself at the hearing and chose not to address the court, but instructed lawyer Pip Hall to speak on his behalf. “Mr Tarrant does not oppose the application. He should be sentenced to life in prison without parole.”
Justice Cameron Mander turned to the convicted killer and asked him if he wanted to speak. “No. Thank you,” Tarrant quietly replied.
Justice Mander read the names of every victim, both the injured and the dead, telling Tarrant about the lives he destroyed or cut short. “You showed no mercy. It was brutal and beyond callous — your actions were inhumane,” Mander told Tarrant.
“As far as I am able to gauge you are empty of any empathy to your victims,” Mander added. “You have said you were in a poisoned emotional state at the time, and terribly unhappy. You felt ostracized by society and wanted to damage society as revenge.”
Thursday’s sentence came at the end of a harrowing four-day hearing at Christchurch High Court where 91 survivors and relatives of the victims described the pain Tarrant had inflicted on the Muslim community.
Tarrant sat quietly, showing little-to-no emotion as they expressed fury, revulsion, forgiveness and sadness.
After his sentencing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said nothing would take away the pain of the attack.
“Today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it,” said Ardern, who has made a point of not saying extremist’s name. “His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence.”
New Zealand abolished the death penalty for murder in 1961, and judges cannot impose cumulative sentences for crimes that relate to the same incident, unlike in the United States. Murder carries a mandatory life sentence, although the sentencing judge specifies how long they need to spend in jail before they are eligible to apply for parole.