New Zealand Mosque Gunman Unexpectedly Pleads Guilty to Killings
An armed police officer stands guard outside the Kilbernie Mosque following the Christchurch terrorist attack in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photographer: Mark Coote/Bloomberg)

New Zealand Mosque Gunman Unexpectedly Pleads Guilty to Killings

(Bloomberg) -- The gunman who attacked two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March last year unexpectedly pleaded guilty to all charges at a special hearing Thursday.

The defendant entered guilty pleas to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act, New Zealand Police said in a statement. The man, Australian Brenton Tarrant, had previously denied the charges.

New Zealand Mosque Gunman Unexpectedly Pleads Guilty to Killings

In the worst massacre in New Zealand’s modern history, the lone gunman attacked the mosques on March 15 last year using modified semi-automatic weapons, and live-streamed the shootings to social media. The tragedy led to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government radically tightening the nation’s gun laws.

The defendant indicated early this week he wanted to be brought before the court, and appeared today via an audio-visual link from Auckland Prison, police said. He was remanded in custody until May 1 when a sentencing date will be considered, according to the statement.

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