Christchurch mosque shooting accused pleads not guilty before court

Alleged Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant pleads not guilty

Wearing a gray sweatshirt, Brenton Tarrant smirked as his lawyer entered not guilty pleas to the 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one terrorism charge at the Christchurch High Court in relation to the March 15 shooting rampage.

According to public broadcaster Radio New Zealand, Tarrant, who witnessed the proceedings through teleconference as he remains detained in a high-security prison in Auckland, appeared to smile on the screen as one of his two attorneys entered the plea on his behalf before the Christchurch High Court.

The courtroom was filled with victims - survivors and family members of the 51 killed during the March 15 attack at two Christchurch mosques - with many more watching from two overflow rooms inside the courthouse via audio visual link.

At his last court appearance in April, he was ordered to undergo mental health assessments to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced tough new firearm laws banning semi-automatic weapons after the attack, which also wounded dozens more people.

It is the first time a terrorism charge has been brought in New Zealand.

The trial against the accused gunman will begin May 4, next year. The assessments are standard in murder cases.

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Outside the courtroom, a man reportedly speaking in support of white supremacy was escorted away by police, according to The Associated Press.

"No issue arises regarding the defendant's fitness to plead, to instruct counsel, and to stand his trial", Mander said.

"He is the loser and we are the victor", he said.

Tarrant allegedly opened fire in the packed Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers, then travelled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque, while livestreaming his actions on social media.

Lichfield Street is expected to play host to the crowds again in August, when the accused will appear for a case review hearing. "But when I saw the terrorist, he was just, he's nothing". Pretending that he's innocent and nothing is wrong.

People pay their respects at a memorial site at the Botanical garden in Christchurch on March 18, 2019, three days after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city that claimed the lives of 51 Muslim worshippers.

Last month she helped lead a global pledge named the Christchurch Call, aimed at boosting efforts to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks. "Not only my child, but 50 people", Ezat said.

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