WELLINGTON May 21 (WNP): The man accused of committing the Christchurch terror attack has become the first to be charged under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act.
Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, now faces 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the man has also now been charged with engaging in a Terrorist Act under section 6A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
The charge alleges a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch on March 15.
Tuesday’s charge is the first time anyone has been charged under terror laws in New Zealand.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bush said police met with victim’s families and survivors of the shootings at two Christchurch mosques on March 15 “to inform them of the new charges … and update them on the ongoing police investigation”.
“Police are committed to providing all the support necessary for what will be a challenging and emotional court process to come for the victim’s families and survivors of the attack,” Bush said.
Mazhar Syed Ahmed attended the meeting and praised police for holding the talks.
“We are very grateful to the police. They fully understand how the Muslim community is feeling, especially those who have lost their loved ones,” he said.
“They explained how the investigation unfolded and what is happening with the charges, but most of all they listened.”
He said people expressed their safety concerns and asked about security at the mosques in the future.
Armed police have been posted at the doors of both the Al Noor Masjid and the Linwood Islamic Centre since the March 15 attack, and will remain during the Ramadan period, which ends in early June.
“People are still sad, angry and upset but the police were very kind and answered all of their questions,” Ahmed said.
“There are a lot of people within the Muslim community in Christchurch from different countries and some have a different experience of the police and justice or different perceptions of the law, so to have the police meet with us and explain how things unfolded meant a lot to everyone.”
Police would not comment further about the charges as the case is before the courts, Bush said.
The accused gunman is next expected to appear in the High Court in June.