Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian, accused of killing 51 persons in two Christchurch mosques attack in March, has been charged with terrorism.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the New Zealand police said a charge of “engaging in a terrorist act” under section 6A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 had been filed against Tarrant.
“The charge will allege a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 and follows consultation between Police, Crown Law and the Christchurch Crown Solicitors Office,” NZ police said in the statement.
An additional murder charge and two additional attempted murder charges were also filed.
Tarrant is now facing 92 charges, including the 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder that he had already been charged with, and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
The self-acclaimed white supremacists last appeared in court in April, and had been made to undergo mental health test. He is being incarcerated at Auckland prison in Paremoremo.
Although the police reiterated commitment to bring the suspect to book, there has been heated debates over the need to topple multiple counts of murder and attempted murder with additional charges of terrorism.
Following that prosecuting acts of terror demands that the suspect’s motivations, not just intention, be examined, there are doubts the court might be leveraged on to air extremist views.
Tarrant had reportedly stated his intentions in a social media rant and an expletive-laden e-document before executing the attack. He is, however, yet to be afforded the opportunity of entering a plea to the multiple charges leveled against him.
TheCable had reported how 49 people lost their lives to the mosque shootings. The death toll, however, later rose to 51, a development which prompted the convergence of well over 20, 000 citizens for a memorial service.
Tarrant, who is being represented by Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, Auckland-based lawyers, is due back in court in June.