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Judge orders psychiatric test for Christchurch suspect

April 4, 2019

The Australian man accused of massacring worshippers in New Zealand has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric test to determine his fitness for trial. He has been charged with 50 counts of murder.

Neuseeland | Anschlag von Christchurch | Brenton Tarrant
Image: Reuters/M. Mitchell

A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered the accused Christchurch shooter to complete a psychiatric assessment to determine if he is fit to face trial for the murder of 50 Muslim worshippers.

The March 15 shooting at two mosques caused major reforms to New Zealand's gun control laws and sparked criticism of social media platforms, which allowed the rampage to be livestreamed.

Charged with murder

  • The suspect, a 28-year-old Australian man, was charged with 50 counts of murder on Thursday.
  • He also faces 39 attempted murder charges for those injured in the attack.
  • The suspect appeared via an audio-video link from Auckland, where he is being held in isolation in a maximum security prison.
  • Despite reports suggesting he would provide his own defense, the suspect was represented by two lawyers.
  • He was not required to submit a plea to the charges.

Mosques attacked: On March 15, a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons attacked two mosques in Christchurch, a coastal city located on New Zealand's southern island. The attack, which was broadcast live on Facebook, targeted Muslims attending Friday prayers. 

Stricter gun control: Earlier this month, New Zealand lawmakers announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic guns. Owners of such weapons have until September to surrender them. The buyback scheme is expected to cost up to 200 million New Zealand dollars ($136 million, €122 million).

Donations to extremist group: German federal police said on Thursday that the mosque attack suspect sent €2,200 ($2,490) to Generation Identaire (Generation Identity), a far-right anti-immigrant movement in France. Austrian authorities have also said the accused sent €1,500 to a sister group, the Identitarian Movement of Austria. The suspect also visited Germany's Neuschwanstein "fairy-tale" castle on November 30 of last year, according to German police.

A mother grieves for her son

dv/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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