New Zealand police say Christchurch accused to face 50 murder charges

Australian Brenton Tarrant was previously charged with only one murder following the attack and has been remanded without a plea.
Australian Brenton Tarrant was previously charged with only one murder following the attack and has been remanded without a plea.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS, AFP) - The Australian man accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers in gun attacks on two mosques in Christchurch will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges, New Zealand police said on Thursday (April 4).

"Other charges are still under consideration," police said in a statement, but they did not specify what they were. The charges could relate to whether the court deems the attack a terrorist act.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was previously charged with only one murder following the attack and has been remanded without a plea.

He is due back in court on Friday and will appear via video link in the Christchurch court from a maximum-security prison in Auckland. 

A note from the court this week said the appearance was likely to be brief and would “ascertain the defendant’s position regarding legal representation” and other procedural matters.

Tarrant sacked a court-appointed lawyer after his first court appearance on March 16, raising fears he wanted to represent himself and attempt to use any trial as a propaganda platform.

The court said Tarrant would not be required to enter a plea during Friday’s hearing. The court has now barred media from filming or photographing the accused.

The March 15 attack was the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in New Zealand.