A White supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole – the first person in the country’s history to receive such sentence.
On March 15, the white Australian right-wing terrorist later identified as Brenton Tarrant live-streamed his sickening shooting spree on Facebook killing 51 people and injuring over 40 others.
The 29-year-old gunman stormed the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country’s South Island, opening fire with a semi-automatic shotgun and a rifle on hundreds of defenceless worshippers attending Friday prayers.
The sickening 17-minute video of the unfolding horror shows the self-confessed white supremacist dressed in army fatigues firing mercilessly at people scrambling to flee, and calmly reloading when he runs out of bullets.
Tarrant after he was arrested admitted to the murder of 51 people, attempted murder of another 40 people and one charge of terrorism.
Judge Cameron Mander in a Christchurch court on Thursday noted;
Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment. His action is inhuman and he showed no mercy.
On imposing a sentence of life without parole, Justice Mander said; “If not here, then when?”
A sentence without parole means the offender will not be given the opportunity to leave prison after serving only a portion of their total sentence.
Justice Mander expressed that such life sentences without parole were reserved only for the “very worst murders”.
New Zealand does not have the death penalty as part of its justice system, but this serves as the first of its kind. Tarrant’s sentencing marks the first terrorism conviction in the country’s history.
On the last day of the four-day sentencing hearing, Justice Mander spent almost an hour reminding Tarrant of each person he killed and injured.
He added that despite the gunman’s guilty pleas, the gunman appeared “neither contrite nor ashamed”.
The sentencing hearing began on Monday, with a large part of the first three days dedicated to hearing victim impact statements.
Tarrant appeared largely emotionless over the past three days, as almost 90 victims – some grieving, others defiant – confronted him.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, upon hearing of Tarrant’s sentencing, said;
It meant he would have no notoriety, no platform and we have no cause to think about him, to see him or to hear from him again. Today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist.
The shootings prompted New Zealand to pass stricter gun laws and buy back certain types of weapons from owners.