Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman changes plea to guilty

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The Australian man accused of killing 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March last year entered a surprise guilty plea to all 51 charges of murder at a special session of a Christchurch court on Thursday.

Brenton Tarrant, who appeared by video link, also pleaded guilty to 40 charges of attempted murder and a terrorism charge, public broadcaster TVNZ said.

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The 29-year-old had previously pleaded not guilty and was due to face trial in June.

New Zealand’s worst-ever mass shootingtook place on March 15 last year when the lone attacker targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch, broadcasting his attack live on Facebook.

The court will now sentence Tarrant on all 92 charges, but did not provide a date for the sentencing. The gunman was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on May 1, TVNZ said.

New Zealand is now in a month-long lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus and the hearing took place with minimal staff, lawyers and media in the court, which placed a one hour embargo on the news so that family members and victims could be informed.

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