CHRISTCHURCH: The gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch city in 2019 was sentenced to life in prison without parole, a court announced on Thursday. The verdict, which is the first of its kind in New Zealand, came after three days of the final hearing of the case at the High Court in Christchurch, reports Xinhua news agency.
The 29-year-old Australian gunman, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was sentenced on 51 murder charges, 40 attempted murder charges and one terrorism charge.
A total of 91 victims or their families gave impact statements at the hearing that started on Monday.
According to the description of the shooting read at the court, "the defendant turned to his right and fired 32 shots from his AR-15 into the mass of people in the northeastern corner of the room".
The rate of fire was extremely high and the defendant moved the AR-15 across and back many times." Tarrant murdered 44 people at the Al Noor Mosque and killed seven more at the nearby Linwood Mosque. He also injured 40 others in the mass shootings, according to the prosecutor Mark Zarifeh who called Trrant "New Zealand's worst murderer".
The gunman conducted a research of the view of the Al Noor Mosque by flying a drone over the mosque in January 2019.
"The planned time for entry was to ensure the maximum number of worshippers would be present," the summary presented at the court said.
According to his interview with the police, Tarrant said he had planned to burn down the mosques dand wanted to "inflict as many fatalities as possible".
He was on the way to another mosque in Ashburton, 85 km southwest of Christchurch, to carry out another attack when he was stopped by the police.
It is the first time the sentence of life imprisonment without parole has been handed down in New Zealand.
The country's law allowing criminals to be imprisoned for life was created in 2010. The harshest previous sentence in New Zealand was life imprisonment with a 30-year non-parole period in 2001. The defendant did not oppose the sentence and showed no reaction at court. (IANS)