Judge orders mental health test for NZ mosque attacks suspect

Saul Bowman
April 8, 2019

In Christchurch's High Court, where he appeared by video link, 39 extra attempted murder charges were filed along with the 49 new murder charges.

The man accused of shooting dead 50 Muslim worshippers in a Christchurch mosque sat impassively Friday as a New Zealand judge ordered him to undergo tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial for murder.

In the aftermath of the deadly 15 March 2019 attack on several Christchurch mosques that left 50 people dead the New Zealand government made a decision to change the country's gun laws.

Following the incident, New Zealand has tightened gun laws while the country's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been hailed for her prompt actions and support following the terror acts.

The suspect appeared via an audio-video link from Auckland, where he is being held in isolation in a maximum security prison.

Tarrant had sacked his court appointed lawyer last month, saying he would represent himself.

A High Court judge said in court minutes this week that the appearance would largely be procedural and that Tarrant would not be required to enter a plea to the charges he faced.

Fifty people were killed in the two mosques and dozens of others were shot and wounded.

They said other charges were still being considered, but declined to comment further.

Tarrant's second court appearance comes three weeks after the attack, as the New Zealand government rushed to make changes to gun laws and investigate how he was able to carry out the attacks.

"I didn't see any emotion on his face", Tofazzal Alam, who survived the attack on the mosque in Linwood, told reporters afterwards.

The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant's legal representation.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said Tarrant had spent just 45 days in Australia over the past few years.

Tarrant, 28, was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder.

Justice Mander also suppressed the names of those Tarrant is accused of attempting to kill. They said that despite some restrictions, he was being managed in accordance with New Zealand and worldwide laws regarding the treatment of prisoners.

It said he had no access to television, radio or newspapers and no visitors.

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