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Police file NZ's first-ever terrorism charge over Christchurch

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 21, 2019 - Duration: 01:04s

Police file NZ's first-ever terrorism charge over Christchurch

New Zealand police say they have charged the man accused of murder in shootings at two Christchurch mosques in March with engaging in a terrorist act, the first time such a charge had been brought in the country's history.

Ryan Brooks reports.

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Police file NZ's first-ever terrorism charge over Christchurch

The man accused of murder in the Christchurch mosque massacres has been charged with a terrorist act.

Police say Tuesday's (May 21) charge under New Zealand's anti-terror law was filed against Brenton Tarrant.

And they say it's the first time that charge has ever been levied in the country's history.

On March 15 a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers, killing 51 people and wounding dozens more.

The attack was broadcast live on Facebook.

Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, faces a total of 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Legal experts who spoke to Reuters say any terrorism conviction would not make much of a practical difference.

Murder charges reflect a higher maximum penalty so they say terrorism was likely added to reflect the trauma felt by those beyond named victims. Tarrant is next due to appear in court on June 14th.

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