CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – The white supremacist who slaughtered 51 believers in two New Zealand mosques was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday.
The judge gave 29-year-old Australian shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant the maximum available sentence when the sentence was first imposed in New Zealand.
Judge Cameron Mander said Tarrant’s crimes were so evil that a life in prison could not begin to atone for them. He said they caused tremendous loss and injury and were the result of a distorted and vicious ideology.
“Your actions were inhuman,” said Mander. “You deliberately killed a 3-year-old child when it was holding onto his father’s leg.”
The March 2019 attacks against people praying in the Al Noor and Linwood mosques shocked New Zealand and resulted in new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. They also led to global changes to social media logs after the shooter broadcast his attack live on Facebook.
During the four-day trial, 90 survivors and family members shared the horror of the attacks and the trauma they continue to experience.
Some decided to yell at the shooter and give him the finger. Others called him a monster, a coward, a rat. Some sang verses from the Koran or addressed it in Arabic. Some spoke softly to Tarrant, saying they had forgiven him.
Tarrant had previously fired his lawyers and told the judge that he did not want to speak at the hearing. A court-appointed attorney told the judge that Tarrant is not opposed to a life sentence without parole.
Mander noted that Tarrant had recently told reviewers that he now rejects his extremist philosophy and considers his attacks “hideous and irrational”.
But Mander said the sincerity of this change of heart was questionable and Tarrant had still shown no compassion for his victims or grief for what he had done.
Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one terrorism in March and rescinded his previous innocent complaints.
Prosecutors said Tarrant flew a drone over the Al Noor Mosque and examined the layout as he meticulously planned his attacks. He arrived with six guns, including two AR-15s.
Prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said his goal was to kill as many people as possible.
“The perpetrator’s actions are a painful and harrowing mark in New Zealand history,” he said.
Tarrant was noticeably thinner at his trial than when he was first arrested. He did not display the audacity he showed on his first court appearance the day after the attacks, when he made a gesture that was sometimes adopted by white supremacists.
Tarrant wore a gray tracksuit and showed little emotion during his sentencing. He watched the speakers, occasionally nodding lightly or covering his mouth while laughing at jokes that were often made at his expense.
Sara Qasem spoke on Thursday during the four-day hearing about her beloved father Abdelfattah, who was killed in the attacks.
“All a daughter ever wants is her father. I want to do more road trips with him. I want to smell his garden kitchen. His Cologne, ”she said. “I want to hear him tell me more about the olive trees in Palestine. I want to hear his voice. My father’s voice. My baba’s voice. “