New Zealand police announced on Tuesday that they filed a terrorism charge against Brenton Tarrant, who is accused of killing 51 worshippers after attacking two mosques in Christchurch last March.
The police accused Brenton Tarrant of committing a terrorist act after using a semi-automatic weapon to target worshipers during Friday prayers in mid-March, killing 51 worshippers and injuring dozens, as well as spreading his offensive attack via Facebook. A number of Arab nationals were killed in the terrorist attack from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine.
“The charge will involve committing a terrorist act in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, while Tarrant faces 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murders,” said the police commissioner, Mike Bush in a statement quoted by Reuters.
Tarrant is on trial on June 14 after being held in pre-trial detention since April and has been ordered to psychiatric evaluation to see if he is eligible for trial, while 200 relatives of the attack’s victims and survivors of the attack have been informed of the additional charges.
Judge, Cameron Mander said at a brief hearing that Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian-born, would undergo a medical examination by two mental health experts to determine whether he was eligible for trial or insane.
In March, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardenne approved conducting a high-level investigation to find out the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack in Christchurch, how such an attack could have been carried out, how the gunman got its weapons, and the role of security and intelligence agencies.
Agencies involved in the investigation include the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Security Bureau, police, customs and immigration, while experts have suggested that the authorities failed because of their focus on jihadist terrorism.
On April 8, Ardenne announced the date of the final report of the commission investigating the terrorist attack on the two mosques saying that the Royal Commission would report to the government by Dec. 10.
“The investigation will examine the activities of the perpetrator, the use of social media and international communications, as well as whether there is an “inadequate” definition of priorities in the state’s counter-terrorism resources,” she said.
The Government took actions following the terrorist incident related to the immediate prohibition of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in New Zealand, as well as an immediate action to restrict the potential storage of such weapons and to encourage persons to continue to hand over their firearms.
On March 16, after his first appearance in the court, Tarrant fired a lawyer appointed by the court, deciding to defend himself.