A lawyer for the self-avowed white supremacist who admitted to killing 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 says his client is considering appealing his life sentence.
Tony Ellis said Monday during an interview on Radio New Zealand that his client, 31-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, said he suddenly pleaded guilty last year to the shootings in Christchurch because of the “inhumane and degrading treatment” he was subjected to in jail while awaiting trial. Tarrant said he was being denied proper access to lawyers, information and documentation that he could have used to aid in his defense.
His treatment, Tarrant said, affected “his will to carry on” so much that he decided “the simplest way out was to plead guilty.” It was the first time a life sentence without parole had ever been imposed in New Zealand.
Elllis said Tarrant made the claims in a memo to New Zealand’s chief coroner who has launched a new investigation into the March 15, 2019 attacks in response to demands from the victims’ survivors, who say there are many unanswered questions stemming from the initial investigation.
In addition to the deaths of 51 people, Tarrant also pleaded guilty to 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism. Hours before carrying out the shootings, Tarrant published a long manifesto online explaining his reasons for the attacks. He then live-streamed the attacks on Facebook, which was viewed by scores of people around the world before it was taken down.
It was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history. The massacre led to a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles and a new nationwide firearms registry that traces every gun in New Zealand.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.