New Delhi :
The Australian gunman charged with murder for allegedly killing 50 people in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques has dropped his court-appointed duty lawyer and will represent himself. "He wants to be self-represented in this case," Duty lawyer Richard Peters, who represented him during the preliminary court hearing, said.
Wearing handcuffs and a white prison shirt, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian right-wing extremist, appeared at Christchurch District Court where the judge read out only a single murder charge against him.
Tarrant, the former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist smirked and made white power gesture as media persons present in the courtroom clicked photographs during the brief hearing that was held behind closed doors for security reasons. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until the next hearing on April 5.
Peters said that during the hearing in court, he appeared "rational" and aware of the situation. “The way he presented was as a rational and someone who was not suffering any mental disability. That's how he appeared. He seemed to understand what was going on," Peters said.
As many as 50 people, including five Indian nationals, were killed and 42 others sustained serious injuries after Tarrant rampaged two Christchurch mosques - the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Masjid Mosque. The gunman live streamed the horrific attack as he shot victims at Al Noor Mosque.
The gunman had 37-page 'manifesto' to 30 people, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, nine minutes before he stormed two city mosques and killed as many as 50 worshippers. Ardern said that the mail from the attacker didn’t include a location or any other specific details and that the police had little time to react.