Man accused of Christchurch mosque attacks charged with 50 counts of murder

A gunman opened fire at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand Credit: AP Photo/Mark Baker

The man accused of carrying out the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges when he makes his second court appearance, New Zealand police said.

Police had earlier filed a single, representative murder charge against 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

He is due to appear via video link during a brief hearing on Friday, and will not be required to enter a plea.

Fifty people died in the attacks on two mosques on March 15, while another 50 were injured.

Police said in a brief statement that they were considering filing more charges against Tarrant but could not comment further as the case was before the court.

Tarrant’s first court appearance was on the day after the attacks in the Christchurch District Court.

His case has now been moved to the High Court due to the seriousness of the charges.

Tarrant has reportedly been moved to a high-security prison in Auckland, which is why he will appear via video link.

During the scheduled court hearing, media photographs will not be allowed and reporting on the proceedings will be severely restricted under New Zealand law.

The intent of the law is to avoid the possibility the reporting and images would taint the views of potential jurors before they hear evidence in court.

Judge Cameron Mander said in a note that the brief hearing would mainly be about the accused gunman’s legal representation.

Tarrant earlier dismissed lawyer Richard Peters, who was assigned to represent him during his district court appearance. Mr Peters said Tarrant told him that he wanted to represent himself.

The judge said he had received applications from 25 media organisations to take film, photographs or audio recordings of Friday’s hearing but had denied all of them. He said reporters could remain throughout and take notes, although would be restricted in what they could report.

He said media could still use pixelated images of Tarrant which the district court judge had allowed.