CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – The man accused of committing the Christchurch mosque shootings was charged on Tuesday with further crimes, including one under the Terrorism Suppression Act, New Zealand Police said.
Fifty-one people were killed in shootings at Al-Noor and Linwood mosques in the South Island city on March 15.
“A charge of engaging in a Terrorist Act under section 6A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 has now been filed against Brenton Tarrant,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.
The charge alleges that a terrorist act was carried out on March 15 in Christchurch and follows consultation between Police, Crown Law and the Christchurch Crown Solicitors Office.
An additional charge of murder and two of attempted murder have also been filed, Bush said.
The 28-year-old now faces 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder, as well as the terrorism charge.
Police met with the victim’s families and survivors to inform them of the new charges and update them on the ongoing investigation and court process to come, Bush said.
Tarrant is being held at Auckland’s high-security prison at Paremoremo. He appeared via video link in Christchurch High Court on April 5 where the judge ordered two mental health evaluations to be completed to assess his fitness to enter pleas. Tarrant is expected to reappear in court on June 14.
New Zealand parliament passed a gun reform bill on April 10, which was enacted days after the shootings. Tarrant had obtained a firearms license in Nov. 2017 after passing all legal requirements.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week co-chaired a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris between world leaders and heads of global tech companies who pledged, under what is now known as the Christchurch Call, to tackle extremist and terrorist content online.
The accused live-streamed the mosque attack for 17 minutes on social media, which was shared across online platforms around the world.