The man accused of carrying out a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March last year has pleaded guilty to the charges. After having previously denied the charges, the shooter, Brenton Tarrant, 29, unexpectedly pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism.
Due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus the plea was heard in a sealed court room, with the defendant’s lawyers appearing via video link.
“Sign of relief”
As a result of his guilty plea no trial will take place. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she let out “a massive sigh of relief” when she heard the news. She went on, saying that:
The whole nation, but particularly the Muslim community, has been spared a trial that could have acted as a platform
Tarrant, who live-streamed parts of his attack on one of the mosques, uploaded a conspiracy theory-laden manifesto before he carried out the murders. In it he claims he was engaging in war against migrants and justified the murder of children. And he admitted in his belief in the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
This conspiracy theory, which is popular amongst the far right, argues that there is a global conspiracy led by elites to destroy the west by encouraging immigration.
In the aftermath of the attack it also came to light that shooter had links to the Austrian branch of Generation Identity. An investigation by Austrian authorities revealed that he had donated €1,500 to the group.