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Christchurch Terrorist Who Killed 51 Muslims Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole

The sentencing carries the certainty of Brenton Tarrant dying behind bars.

Cover image via The Sydney Morning Herald

29-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, who shot dead 51 Muslims at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March last year, was sentenced to life in prison without parole today, 27 August

Christchurch High Court Justice Cameron Mander imposed New Zealand's first sentence of life without parole on Tarrant, making him the first person in the country's history to receive this sentence.

The sentencing means that the 29-year-old will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Justice Mander reportedly said that Tarrant showed cruelty and callous indifference in carrying out his ideologically driven crimes and that he appeared entirely self-absorbed, and neither contrite nor ashamed.

"Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it would not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation," Justice Mander said in his sentencing remarks.

"You are not only a murderer but a terrorist. You sought to essentially attack New Zealand's way of life," he said, adding that Tarrant "deliberately killed a three-year-old infant as he clung to the leg of his father".

"While the grieving and wounded watched with a mix of anger, defiance, and relief, Tarrant, an Australian with thinning hair and inscrutable eyes, was hauled away to face the certainty of dying behind bars," The New York Times described, noting that he was given New Zealand's most severe punishment.

Prior to the sentencing, the white supremacist pleaded guilty

He pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder, and one count of committing a terrorist act after he gunned down Muslim worshipers during Friday prayers.

While he was given a chance to defend himself on the fourth day of his sentencing hearing in the Christchurch High Court, Tarrant waived his right to make any sentencing submissions.

He, however, instructed a standby lawyer to tell the court that he did not oppose a sentence of life without parole and showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down, reported ABC News.

The victims of the Christchurch massacre.

Image via The Sydney Morning Herald

Sara Qasem, who lost her father in the attacks, gave a victim impact statement on Wednesday, in which she described her father as a "hero"

Sara told Tarrant not to forget her father's name: Abdelfattah Qasem.

As she described her father, some of the survivors in the room were brought to tears.

I want to hear my dad's voice, my baba's voice.
Sara

Meanwhile, Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah, who fought off Tarrant with a credit card machine and saved many lives, described him as "coward" and told him to "never forget these two eyes you ran from"

During his impact statement, Abdul, an Afghan refugee, stood in court to challenge the 29-year-old terrorist again, saying he must remember his face as "the one who chased you out" and told him that he "should thank God on that day that I didn't catch you. This government would save a lot of money".

He also told Tarrant that his idea to breed hate between religions has failed.

"Everybody got together on that day as one brother," he said, adding that while he felt sorry for his family, he felt nothing for the terrorist who should "never forget these two eyes you ran from".

According to The New Zealand Herald, as Abdul was about to leave the courtroom, Justice Mander stopped him to say that, "Before you go, I've seen the video and I want to acknowledge what courage."

It prompted a spontaneous round of applause in the public gallery.

Here's a recap of the Christchurch mosque attacks: