'Inhuman': Christchurch killer sentenced to life without parole

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, sits in the dock on day three at the Christchurch High Court on August 26, 2020
Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 29, sits in the dock on day three at the Christchurch High Court on August 26, 2020   -  Copyright  John Kirk-Anderson/Pool Photo via AP
By Associated Press

The judge said his crimes stemmed from a warped and malignant ideology.

Australian white suprematist Brenton Harrison Tarrant was handed on Thursday a life sentence without parole for killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019.

The judge imposed the maximum available sentence on the 29-year-old gunman, the first time such sentence has been imposed in New Zealand.

“Your actions were inhuman,” Judge Cameron Mander told him. “You deliberately killed a 3-year-old infant as he clung to the leg of his father.”

The country's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, commented on the sentencing saying that that the trauma the terrorist had caused deserved " a lifetime of complete and utter silence."

"Nothing will take the pain away," she said as she addressed the Muslim community, "but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow".

Shortly after his conviction, New Zealand's deputy prime minister Winston Peters said that Tarrant should be transferred to an Australian prison.

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that Canberra was "open" to repatriate him. 

Ninety survivors and victims' relatives confronted the killer in court on Wednesday, who had decided not to speak in his defence.

Survivor Mustafa Boztas, who returned from Turkey for the hearing, told the gunman he was "just an insignificant killer who's lonely, scared and left behind to suffer for eternity."

"You are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world", he said.

Jibran Safi, a son of one of the victims, told the killer he was "a big fat loser, a coward and a pathetic human being" with "no love, no remorse and no compassion".

"I have peace knowing in the hereafter you'll get what you deserve by the will of the almighty Allah," he exclaimed, asserting the attack only made the Muslim community "more visible".

Hamimah Tuyan, a wife of one of the victims, recalled her husband "fought" in hospital for 48 days before he died, adding that "no amount of money" will bring back her "imam, bodyguard, entertainer, problem solver, comforter and best friend".

Sahadat Mohammed, one of the 90 survivors who attended the hearing, told Tarrant: "You're finished, OK? You're nothing".

Another survivor, Che Ta Binti Mat Ludin. told the court she hid in a storeroom of the women's prayer room along with other women as the shooting started, initially thinking it was firecrackers.

She said she returned to Malaysia following the attack because she didn't feel safe in Christchurch.

"I feel reluctant to socialize and do not feel like talking to people that much," she said.

Tarrant watched the speakers, occasionally giving a small nod or smirking at jokes made at his expense.

At the hearing, he didn't show the brazenness he did at his first court appearance the day after the attacks, when he made a hand gesture sometimes adopted by white supremacists.

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