Survivors will face New Zealand mosque gunman at sentencing
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — When Aya Al-Umari faces her brother’s killer in the dock, she intends to tell him that his hatred stole away her best friend, her guardian, her hero. That she still wants to pick up the phone and tell her brother all about her day, because he’s the only one who would understand.
Al-Umari is one of more than 60 survivors and family members who this week in court will confront the white supremacist who committed the worst atrocity in New Zealand’s modern history, when he slaughtered 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019.
The gunman, 29-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, pleaded guilty in March to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism — the first terrorism conviction in the nation’s history.
Tarrant has dismissed his lawyers and intends to represent himself during the four-day sentencing starting Monday, raising fears he could try to use the occasion as a platform to promote his racist views. He can choose to speak once the victims have spoken, although the judge will likely shut down any attempts he makes to grandstand.