‘Wicked’ Christchurch mosque gunman sentenced to life without parole

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND (AFP) – New Zealand mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole yesterday for the massacre of 51 Muslim congregants, with a judge calling him “wicked” and “inhuman”.

As the sentence was read out there was jubilation outside the courtroom, with crowds cheering and singing the national anthem. Judge Cameron Mander said Tarrant’s “warped” ideology and “base hatred” led the Australian white supremacist to murder defenceless men, women and children last year in New Zealand’s worst terror attack.

“Your crimes are so wicked, that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation,” Mander said as he announced a sentence that is a New Zealand legal first. The judge solemnly read out the names of those Tarrant executed in his livestreamed rampage and recounted in forensic detail how he shot the wounded as they pleaded for help on March 15 last year.

“It was brutal and beyond callous. Your actions were inhuman,” he said, pointing out that Tarrant deliberately attacked Friday prayers to maximise casualties. Tarrant, 29 – who waived his right to speak at the hearing – retained the same impassive demeanour through the four-day hearing as survivors and bereaved family members gave heart-wrenching testimony of their incalculable loss.

The imam of Al Noor mosque Gamal Fouda – one of those targetted by Tarrant – said the sentence was what the Muslim community had hoped for.