The man who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 is facing survivors as sentencing takes place.
Australian citizen, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared at the Christchurch High Court on Monday.
He pleaded guilty in March to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism.
Justice Cameron Mander said he had received some 200 victim impact statements, as well as submissions from Muslim and community organisations.
“I have read them all,’’ Mander said.
Maysoon Salama, whose son, Ata Elayyan, was killed in the attacks, said her son was taken in an “inhumane” murder.
“He was taken from us viciously and cruelly.’’
Tarrant had “terrorised the whole of New Zealand and saddened the whole world,’’ Salama said.
“You thought you could break us. You failed miserably.’’
Farah Kamal, the widow of Elayyan, said she and their young daughter had to “learn to live with the indescribable pain’’ of his loss.
“I wish noone has to go through the dark days that have passed, and the challenging ones that are still to come.’’
For the first time, the Court heard a summary of facts from the day, which Mander warned would be distressing.
Crown solicitor, Barnaby Hawes, recounted Tarrant’s actions and the 44 deaths at Al Noor mosque and seven deaths at the Linwood Islamic Centre.
Tarrant travelled to the mosques with multiple weapons, planning to “instil fear”, the Crown said.
He also planned an attack on a mosque in Ashburton, a one-hour drive south of the city.
Police rammed his vehicle and arrested him before that was possible.
In his interview with the Police, Tarrant acknowledged the attacks were “terror attacks” motivated by his ideological beliefs.
The events of March 15, 2019 had changed the country, Imam of Al Noor mosque, Gamal Fouda, told the Court.
“I will never forget the events of that day. I saw the hate of a brainwashed terrorist.’’
Speaking directly to Tarrant, Fouda told him his hatred was unnecessary.
“We are a peaceful and loving community, who did not deserve your actions,’’ Fouda said.
The compassion and love shown by New Zealand after the attacks was “the opposite of what the terrorist wanted’’, Fouda said.
“If you have done anything, you have brought the community closer with your evil actions.’’
Sixty-six victims are expected to address the court over the four-day hearing, before Mander hands down his sentence. (dpa/NAN)