In an attack broadcast live on Facebook, the lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15, in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting.
Appearing in Christchurch High Court via an audiovisual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland, Brenton Tarrant sat silently as lawyer Shane Tait said his client pleaded “not guilty to all charges”.
This is the first time a terrorism charge has been brought in New Zealand.
The self-proclaimed white supremacist has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a “terrorist” act over the March 15 atrocity in the South Island city.
High Court Justice Cameron Mander said the trial would begin on May 4 next year.
“The court endeavours to bring serious criminal cases to trial within a year of arrest. The scale and complexity of this case makes this challenging,” Mander said.
Tarrant has been remanded in custody until August 16 when a case review hearing is scheduled.