Alleged Christchurch mosque attacker now charged with 50 counts of murder


An Australian white supremacist accused of massacres at two mosques in New Zealand will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges.

The public gallery was packed to standing capacity with members of the Muslim community and journalists from New Zealand and around the world.

Brenton Tarrant, charged with murder, making a sign to the camera during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court in New Zealand March 16, 2019.

Criminal charges, such as murder and attempted murder are easier to pursue, although prosecutors may want the accused tried as a terrorist to make the point that right-wing extremism is just as unsafe as its Islamic counterpart.

Several national and worldwide media outlets have made applications to film and record Friday's court proceedings.

The accused is being held in the maximum security wing of Auckland prison - more than 1,000km north of Christchurch - and has laid a complaint regarding his detention, saying he is being deprived of his basic rights.

It will be his second court hearing since he allegedly massacred 50 people at the Linwood and Al Noor mosques on March 15, and shot many others.

Tarrant is due to return to court on 14 June.

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Auckland-based lawyers, Jonathan Hudson and Shane Tait, will represent the accused gunman.

Justice Cameron Mander formally recorded that a further 49 charges of murder and 39 of attempted murder had been filed by the Crown.

The judge said the accused will not be required to enter pleas today.

They could relate to whether the court deems attack a terrorist act.

The intent of the law is to avoid the possibility the reporting and images would taint the views of potential jurors before they hear evidence in court.

New Zealand is in the process of tightening its gun laws after the attack and the government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech.

Those allowed to remain in court regardless of any of order are a jury, prosecutor, the defendant, any lawyer engaged in the proceedings, an officer of the court, and the police officer in charge of the case.