Alleged Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant fires lawyer, says he’ll represent himself
The man accused of mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand has fired his lawyer and plans to represent himself in court, leading to speculation that he might try to use his trial as a platform for extremist views.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, of Australia, who has been charged with one count of murder, appeared to be lucid and not mentally unstable. He is expected to face more charges when he next appears in court on April 5.
Fifty people were killed and 40 were injured in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday (March 15), an act that has shocked this country of 4.5 million people. There are still 34 people in hospitals, including a four-year-old girl who is in a critical condition.
New Zealand has long been considered safe from terrorism and from the outside world in general. American tycoons flocked to buy property here in the wake of the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and other terrorist attacks on the United States.
The death toll from last Friday’s attacks exceeds New Zealand’s annual homicide rate; 35 people were killed in 2017, the latest year for which figures are available.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“We cannot be deterred from the work we need to do on our gun laws in New Zealand. They need to change,” she said on Sunday.
Presently, people must obtain licences to own guns, and 99.6 per cent of the 43,509 licence applications filed in 2017 were approved.
Ms Ardern has talked about requiring licences for individual guns, rather than for users, and about banning semi-automatic weapons.