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New Zealand's Christchurch Mosque Shooter Sentenced To Life Without Parole

Victims and members of the public following the sentencing of Brenton Harrison Tarrant in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Victims and members of the public following the sentencing of Brenton Harrison Tarrant in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday.

The 29-year-old Australian national's sentence marks the first time New Zealand has imprisoned someone without the possibility of release.

"As far as I am able to gauge, you are empty of any empathy for your victims," Judge Cameron Mander said before handing down his sentence, calling Tarrant "brutal," "callous" and "inhuman."

White supremacist Brenton Tarrant is seen in court in Christchurch, New Zealand at his sentening Thursday. Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers.
John Kirk Anderson / POOL/AFP via Getty Images
White supremacist Brenton Tarrant is seen in court in Christchurch, New Zealand at his sentening Thursday. Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers.

Tarrant attacked Muslim worshipers at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center with semiautomatic weapons on March 15, 2019. He killed 51 people and injured dozens of others. Before carrying out the deadly attack, he uploaded a hate-filled post to the anonymous message board 8chan. Tarrant livestreamed his attack on Facebook for 17 minutes before it was removed.

Judge Mander received more than 200 victim impact statements as well as statements from the Muslim Association of Canterbury, the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, Cashmere High School and the Canterbury Interfaith Society. Crowds gathered outside the court on the day of sentencing in support of the victims of the attack and their families.

Tarrant had originally pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism, murder and attempted murder. In March, he abruptly changed his plea to guilty.

The attack sent New Zealand – a country where crime rates are low and mass shootings rare – into shock and mourning. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded by banning semi-automatic weapons and implementing a buyback program for gun owners.

"It gave me relief to know that that person will never see the light of day," Ardern told Radio New Zealand after the sentencing. Addressing the country's Muslim population, she acknowledged that "nothing will take the pain away," but hoped they "felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process, and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow."

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