This March 19, 2019 photo, shows the apartment, left, in Dunedin, New Zealand, that belongs to the Australian man, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant who is charged with murder for the March 15 attacks. New Zealanders are debating the limits of free speech after their chief censor banned a 74-page manifesto written by a man accused of massacring 50 people at two mosques. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Man accused in New Zealand mosque killings pleads not guilty

The 28-year-old Australian appeared via video link from a small room

The man accused of killing 51 people at two Christchurch mosques pleaded not guilty on Friday to all the charges filed against him.

Brenton Tarrant smirked as his lawyer, Shane Tait, entered the not guilty pleas, but otherwise showed little emotion during the hearing at the Christchurch High Court.

READ MORE: New Zealander pleads guilty to sharing mosque shooting video

The 28-year-old Australian appeared via video link from a small room at the maximum security prison in Auckland where he’s being held.

The courtroom was filled with 80 survivors and family members, while about another 60 watched the proceedings on video in an overflow room.

Four cultural advisers and other staff were assigned to help the victims and family members understand what was going on in court and the next steps in the case.

A man who addressed the survivors said they had been praying during the holy month of Ramadan and that the Muslim community would help and support each other during the coming weeks and months.

Tarrant has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in relation to the March 15 massacre.

Wearing a gray sweat shirt, Tarrant was shown being brought into the room by three prison officers. His link had been muted, and he didn’t attempt to speak. When Judge Cameron Mander asked if he could hear and see what was going on in the courtroom, Tarrant nodded.

Mander said that two mental-health assessments of Tarrant had been completed, and there were no issues in relation to the accused’s ability to enter pleas and stand trial. Such mental-health assessments are standard procedure in murder cases.

The judge scheduled a six-week trial to begin May 4. Tarrant will remain in custody ahead of his next hearing on Aug. 15.

In the March 15 attacks, 42 worshippers were killed at the Al Noor mosque and seven were killed at the Linwood mosque during Friday prayers. Two more people died later at the Christchurch Hospital.

The shooter livestreamed much of the attack on Facebook.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed never to say the accused man’s name. Last month she helped lead a global pledge named the “Christchurch Call,” aimed at boosting efforts to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks.

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District adopts 2020 budget in closed-door meeting

The plan shows an overall tax increase of 6.64 percent, applied differently in each electoral area

3-D printer provides PPE for West Coast General Hospital

City of Port Alberni purchases 3-D printers to help with pandemic

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Nanaimo man, allegedly drunk and high, arrested after climbing 100-foot tree

Man in sandals climbs fir tree, hurls obscenities at police below

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read