WELLINGTON, New Zealand: White supremacist Brenton Tarrant who killed 51 people and wounded several others at two Christchurch mosques, is expected to enter pleas and face a new terrorism charge when he appears in court on Friday.
Tarrant was not required to submit a plea in his last court appearance on April 5 as the court had issued an ordered on April 5 under which he was to undergo a mental assessment to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.
The court has also lifted an order that required media to publish only pixilated images to obscure Tarrant’s face.
A lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15. The massacre was broadcast live on Facebook by the attacker.
Tarrant is facing 50 counts of murder for the attack and when he appears in the Christchurch High Court on Friday will be charged under a terrorist act, the first time such a charge has been brought in New Zealand.
The police announced it would bring on terrorism charges and an additional murder charge against Tarrant.
New Zealand’s response to the massacre which prompted tightened gun laws in the country was widely hailed. However, there is also a debate over the government’s failure to curb hate crimes and check threats from white supremacist groups.