Christchurch terror accused to undergo mental health assessment

Tributes to the victims of the mosque shootings line the roads

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 carrying out the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges when he makes his second court appearance, New Zealand police said Thursday.

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

The attacks were described at the time by New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern as "the worst" in the country's history.

The accused is being held in the maximum security wing of Auckland prison - more than 1,000km north of Christchurch - and has laid a complaint regarding his detention, saying he is being deprived of his basic rights.

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Local media have reported the accused had fired his lawyer and meant to represent himself at trial, raising concerns he could use the legal process to espouse white supremacist views.

Tait on Friday said he was arranging for his client to receive psychiatric assessment and that the process would take "some months", according to court minutes.

He is accused of shooting dead 50 people and injuring dozens more after opening fire in two mosques during Friday prayers, live-streaming the killing spree on social media. During the first hearing, Tarrant made a hand gesture commonly used by white-supremacist groups.

Tarrant's first appearance was on the day after the attacks in the Christchurch District Court.

No-one could stop the suspect from responding directly to the charges he faces, "but if someone wanted to talk about irrelevant matters, the court could say "we're not going to hear this, move on", Peters said.

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

"The man had no emotion", said Tofazzal Alam, a regular at one of the mosques, when asked about seeing the suspect on video.

He could also be charged under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

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.

Brenton Tarrant has now been charged with 50 counts of murder over the March 15 attack. But she freely admitted that New Zealand itself was not immune to such "viruses".

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