News24.com | New Zealand mosque shooter sacks lawyers, chooses to represent himself at sentencing

  • Brenton Tarrant, the gunman behind New Zealand’s
    Christchurch mosque shootings, chose to represent himself during sentencing.
  • A high court judge allowed Tarrant’s lawyers to
    withdraw from proceedings at their client’s request.
  • There are fears that Tarrant could use the platform
    to ‘promote’ his far-right, white-supremacist views and thoughts from the dock.


Wellington – The gunman behind New Zealand’s
Christchurch mosque shootings sacked his lawyers on Monday and opted to
represent himself, raising fears he would use a sentencing hearing next month
to promote his white-supremacist views.

Australian national Brenton Tarrant will be
sentenced on 24 August on 51 murder convictions, 40 of attempted murder and one
of terrorism arising from last year’s massacre, the worst mass shooting in New
Zealand’s modern history.

He has pleaded guilty to the charges.

At a pre-sentencing hearing on Monday, high court
judge Cameron Mander allowed Tarrant’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson,
to withdraw from proceedings at the request of their client.

However, the judge ordered “standby
counsel” to be available next month in case Tarrant – who appeared in the
Christchurch court via video link from an Auckland prison – changes his mind.

New Zealand Muslim Association president Ikhlaq
Kashkari questioned Tarrant’s motives, saying victims could be re-traumatised
if the gunman were allowed to spout far-right rhetoric from the dock.

“My first concern when I read this was ‘Oh my
God, what’s this guy up to, is he going to use this as a platform to promote
his views and thoughts?’,” he told AFP.

“A lot of people are still going through
trauma and this was seen as one of those events that would give them closure. I
hope it’s not going to be something that will trigger more pain instead.”

‘He wants attention’

In March 2019, Tarrant gunned down Muslim
worshippers during Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques, live-streaming
the killings as he went.

His victims included children, women and the
elderly.

The former gym instructor unexpectedly reversed his
not-guilty plea in March this year, removing the need for a lengthy trial.

The terror and murder charges all carry life
sentences, setting a minimum non-parole period of 17 years while also giving
the judge power to imprison without the possibility of release. New Zealand
does not have the death penalty.

Survivors and the families of victims will be
present during the three-day sentencing hearing and Islamic Women’s Council of
New Zealand spokesperson Anjum Rahman said many would not want to hear from
Tarrant.

While she did not want to speculate on Tarrant’s
motive for representing himself, she said: “He has shown in the past that
he likes to get attention and he wants attention.

“I feel this is all part of that
mindset.”

Article source: https://www.news24.com/news24/World/News/new-zealand-mosque-shooter-sacks-lawyers-chooses-to-represent-himself-at-sentencing-20200713