New Zealand mosque shooter changes plea to guilty

Brenton Tarrant appeared in court today via audio-visual link and pleaded guilty to all charges

A man accused of deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year ago has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder.

"The guilty pleas to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act were taken via an audio-visual link from Auckland Prison", commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.

Many had feared Australian white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant would try to use his trial as a platform to promote his views.

His actions prompted Ardern, who has vowed never to say the killer's name, to tighten New Zealand's gun laws and launch a campaign to curb online extremism.

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Tarrant is the first person to be found guilty of terrorism in New Zealand under laws passed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the guilty pleas give some relief to survivors and others affected by the massacre "whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15".

"Honestly, I'm still trying to process what just happened", said Aya Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was killed in the attack on the Al Noor mosque. After hearing the guilty pleas, Judge Justice Mander entered convictions "on each and every" charge.

The gunman reversing his plea means the trial, which lawyers expected to stretch on for six weeks, will no longer take place.

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