New Zealand mosque gunman may appeal against convictions and sentence

The gunman, who killed 51 believers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is considering appealing his convictions and sentence, his lawyer said.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant said he was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in prison, which led him to coercive pleading guilty, attorney Tony Ellis wrote in a memo to the New Zealand medical examiner.

Tarrant, a white racist, streamed the 2019 attacks live on Facebook. It was the worst atrocity in modern New Zealand history, and prompted lawmakers to swiftly ban the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

Last year, before his trial was due to begin, Tarrant pleaded guilty to all charges, including 51 murders, 40 cases of attempted murder and one case of terrorism. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole, the toughest sentence available.

The attorney’s memo was not immediately made public on Monday. Mr Ellis said the shooter authorized him to only discuss the case with two local media outlets, RNZ and Stuff.

The coroner’s office did not immediately release a copy of the memo and referred the inquiries to Mr. Ellis. But the coroner’s office did not deny the existence of the memo or its media characterization.

RNZ reported that Mr. Ellis advised his client to appeal his judgment and convictions because his rights had been violated and Tarrant was considering an appeal.

Mr Ellis said the shooter had been in solitary confinement most of the time while waiting for his trial and did not have adequate access to lawyers, information and records about his case.

The gunman told his attorney that his treatment in prison affected his “will to move on” and that he decided the easiest way out was to plead guilty, RNZ reported.

The memo came after Chief Coroner Deborah Marshall’s office opened an investigation into the deaths of the victims last month, the latest in a series of investigations into the attacks.

Rosemary Omar, whose 24-year-old son Tariq was shot dead in the Al Noor Mosque, told RNZ that the shooter’s allegations were nothing more than that he was seeking further attention.

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