Brenton Tarrant, who was accused of killing 51 people in New Zealand’s Christchurch mosques attack has been charged with terrorism, police have said.
The Australian was charged with “engaging in a terrorist act”, police said in a statement on May 21.
Brenton Tarrant is already facing charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder following the 15th of March attack on two mosques in the South Island city.
He is next due in court in June.
It is the first time a person has been charged in New Zealand with an act of terror under this law.
New Zealand Police – who met with victims’ families and other survivors to inform them of the charge before it was announced – said they consulted with legal experts and prosecutors before deciding to lay the additional charge.
On March 15, 50 people lost their lives in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch. One died in hospital later.
49 people have been killed and other 48 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the country’s deadliest attack.
New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern described it as a terrorist attack and one of the country’s “darkest days”.
A gunman identifying himself as an Australian live-streamed the rampage at Al Noor mosque to Facebook. He had espoused racist, anti-immigrant views.
According to police, a man in his late 20s has been arrested and charged with murder.
Two other men and one woman were also detained.
No names have been made public. Firearms and explosive devices were recovered, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.
The gunman live-streaming the attack from a head-mounted camera said he was a 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant. The footage showed him firing at men, women and children from close range inside the Al Noor mosque.
Facebook had removed the suspect’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage. The live-stream of the attack lasted for 17 minutes.
The suspect who was charged appeared to have published a document online outlining his intentions as well as details about the plan for the attack. He is due in court on March 16.
Australian PM Scott Morrison described the man as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist. New Zealand Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that the man had not been known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian security services.