Wellington, Mar 26: The man accused of carrying out the deadly attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year ago pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder on Thursday.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, also admitted to the attempted murder of another 40 people, and one terrorism charge. He had previously denied the charges and was due to go on trial in June.
On 15 March last year, Tarrent dressed in military fatigues and armed with several automatic weapons shot dead 51 worshippers at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in inner-city Christchurch.
Forty-nine people were injured in the attacks, which were livestreamed on the internet.The attacks were the worst in modern New Zealand history and it sent shock waves around the world, compelling the New Zealand government to bring in stricter gun laws.
New Zealand is in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak and the plea was made at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch High Court on Thursday.
No members of the public were allowed in to the hearing and Tarrant, who hails from New South Wales, Australia, and his lawyers appeared via video link.
A representative from each of the two mosques that were attacked were allowed to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.
Sentencing will not take place until it is possible for all victims who wish to attend the hearing to do so, police said, and that will not be possible “for some time” due to the Covid-19 epidemic according to a BBC report.
Tarrant has been remanded in custody until 1 May 2020. (UNI)