New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant

New Zealand Christchurch mosque attack victims share their stories during the sentence

Sentencing Brenton Tarrant, the New Zealand mosque gunman, the judge has called him 'wicked' and 'inhuman'. The mosque gunman was sentenced to life prison without parole on Thursday for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers. The New Zealand mosque killing was also telecast live on Facebook by the accused. 

Judge Cameron Mander in his sentence said that it is incumbent on the court to respond in a way that decisively rejects such vicious malevolence. "Behind Tarrant's 'warped' ideology was a 'base hatred' that led him to attack defenceless men, women, and children last year in New Zealand's worst terror attack," he said. 

Judge Mander's decision is said to be an unprecedented sentence in New Zealand's legal history. He said that the New Zealand Muslim community had paid a terrible price in this aim of promoting right-wing extremism. Tarrant had failed in his aim of promoting extremism through his act, the judge added.

"Your crimes, however, are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation," said Mander in handing down the sentence.

"As far as I can discern, you are empty of any empathy for your victims," he said.

Tarrant, dressed in grey prison clothes and surrounded by guards, did not react to the sentence.

Prosecutors told the court earlier that Tarrant wanted to instil fear in those he described as invaders and that he carefully planned the attacks to cause maximum carnage.

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Tarrant, who represented himself during the hearings but did not make submissions, said through a lawyer in court on Thursday that he did not oppose the prosecution`s application for a life without parole sentence.

"The hatred that lies at the heart of your hostility to particular members of the community that you came to this country to murder has no place here - it has no place anywhere," Mander said.

The judge asked Tarrant before handing down the sentence if he had any comment. Tarrant just nodded when asked if he was aware he had the right to make submissions, but he did not speak.

Before Tarrant, triple-murderer William Bell was serving the longest sentence in New Zealand with a minimum non-parole prison term of 30 years for his 2001 crimes.

On March 15, 2019, 29-year-old Australian white supremacist rampaged two Christchurch mosques for nearly 20 minutes during Friday prayers. The world was shocked to the act being telecast live on social media platform Facebook. 

After initially pleading not guilty Tarrant admitted 51 murder charges, 40 attempts to murder, and one terrorism charge over the attack.  

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh termed this as an atrocity that was beyond comparison in New Zealand's criminal history. Zarifeh said life behind bars was "the only proper sentencing option" for Tarrant.

He said that the offending was motivated by an entrenched racist and xenophobic ideology, the offender is clearly New Zealand's worst murderer. No minimum period is sufficiently long to satisfy sentencing objectives given the gravity of the offending and the devastating loss of life and injury, he added.

The court heard harrowing testimony from victims and their families. During the sentencing, Tarrant remained impassive. A widow Ambreen Naeem told the court about her life after her husband and son lost their lives in the mosque attack. She pleaded that Tarrant's punishment should continue forever as she never had a proper and normal sleep after the loss. 

Tarrant had sacked his legal team and declared that he would fight for himself before the sentencing. He accepted the sentence and waived his right to speak. Fearing that he may use the platform to propagate his extremist ideology, the court imposed restrictions on reporting of proceedings. Otherwise, Tarrant remained impassive while sentencing.