Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism | Stuff.co.nz

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has entered shock guilty pleas, bringing relief to survivors and victims’ families.

Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the High Court at Christchurch on Thursday morning and admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

He’d previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was scheduled to stand trial on June 2.

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Fifty-one people died as a result of the March 15, 2019 attack.

Tarrant, who wore a grey prisoner sweater, was largely silent and emotionless throughout the hearing. He sat alone in a white room with a grey door at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, where he’s held in maximum security.

The terrorist’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared via video-link from another court room.

Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism via AVL in the Christchurch High Court.

The names of all 51 people killed were read to Tarrant, before he was asked how he pleaded to the murder charges.

He replied: “Yes, guilty.”

The same process was followed for the attempted murder charges.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF
Terrorist Brenton Tarrant pictured at his first court appearance, the day after the mosque shootings.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Tarrant in custody, but has not yet set a date for sentencing, when the summary of facts would be made public.

Few people knew of the special hearing, which was only scheduled late Wednesday, on the eve of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Six New Zealand journalists attended. Also in court were the imams from both targeted mosques. An-nur (Al Noor) imam Gamal Fouda was visibly upset as the guilty pleas were entered.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Mustafa Boztas still has a fragment of a bullet inside him.

The hearing concluded at 10.30am, but the judge suppressed the outcome for an hour to allow victims, who were unaware of the hearing, to be notified.

The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.

Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur.

Mander said both the Crown and defence asked to have the hearing expedited, despite the severe health restrictions.

The courts were considered an essential public service that was able to deal with “priority proceedings without compromising people’s health”.

The judge said he felt the court had the capacity to safely hear the matter by limiting the number of people in court. In total, 17 people were present.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflects on the last year following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

It was regrettable the Covid-19 restrictions prevented victims from attending, he said, but the imams had been asked to be present to bear witness to the proceedings.

“It was my assessment that taking the defendant’s pleas at this time was the appropriate course in the circumstances,” Mander said.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding, and I considered the need to take the opportunity to progress the matter was particularly acute coming as it has at a time when the risk of further delay as a result of Covid-19 was looming as realistic possibility.”

Mander said the defendant would not be sentenced before the court returned to normal operations.

The defendant had been remanded to a nominal date of May 1. It was hoped a sentencing date would be confirmed in the interim.

“It is fully anticipated that all who wish to attend court for the sentencing hearing will be able to do so in person.”  

On March 15 last year, Tarrant drove from his Dunedin home to Christchurch with an arsenal of guns and ammunition he’d amassed since moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2017.

The white supremacist entered Masjid An-nur (also known as the Al Noor Mosque) on Deans Ave as Friday prayers were beginning, about 1.40pm, and opened fire – killing and wounding dozens of people.

He then drove across town to the Linwood Mosque where he continued his shooting spree.

Tarrant was arrested a short time later after his car, a gold Subaru Outback, was rammed off the road by two police officers on Brougham St as he tried to make his way to a third target, though to be a mosque in Ashburton, where he planned to carry out another attack.

When police searched the vehicle they found several guns and petrol bombs.

NZ’S WORST MASS SHOOTING

In total, 51 people were killed in the terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting by an individual in New Zealand history.

Tarrant was the first person to be charged under NZ’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur, said he could not understand what caused Tarrant to change his plea.

“I’m both shocked and relieved. Shocked at the sudden change in plea, relieved that my family and I, along with other victims won’t have to relive it all through the courts.”

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said his immediate reaction was one of enormous relief and great gratitude.

“I think the victims will feel a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Our position has always been to let justice take its course, but a trial would have put a lot of pressure on our families. If you look at the anguish caused by the trial of Grace Millane’s killer you can see how bad it would be for 51 families.”

Mustafa Boztas, who lay on the ground inside the Masjid An-nur with a bullet in his leg, pretending to be dead, said from Turkey he always knew Tarrant would be found guilty. 

“I feel he basically played with our minds and emotionally upset us more for no reason.”

Boztas said he would have stayed in the country instead of going overseas if he’d known Tarrant was going to plead guilty. 

“While it can’t undo the damage it has brought upon our community and country, it gives me hope that this help bring not only justice but some closure to those touched by this event.

“To the families, I hope this brings you peace, and a sense that love can conquer hate. While this closes the criminal proceedings for the shootings, please know there is still a long way to go in recovery for some of us, so thank you for your continued support.”

Yasir Amin, whose father 67-year-old Muhammad Amin Nasir was shot in the back by the gunman shooting from his car, said the guilty pleas were good news.

“It’s good to avoid a trial because we would be reminded of everything, every day of the six week trial. We’ve avoided that mental torture and we’re not in a situation where the outcome is not 100 per cent sure.”

Nasir was to undergo another operation on Monday but the operation was postponed due to Covid-19 measures. He had spent two months in hospital after the shootings and had another 20-day stay in December.

“He is now doing well. He goes for walks and eats well.”

Just about every organ in his father’s body except his heart had been damaged by the shotgun pellets, Amin said.

Nasir was shot about 200 metres from the mosque on Deans Ave. The gunman drove past Amin and his father, who were walking to the mosque along the footpath, when he aimed a shotgun at them from his car. Both ran for their lives but Nasir was shot. Their plight was captured by a motel CCTV camera. 

‘HE’S GOT TO PAY THE TIME’

Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, had no idea about the plea until called by Stuff.

“I feel sorry he did the crime, but he’s got to pay the time now.”

She declined to comment further.

Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.

“We’re pleased victims no longer have to face the trauma of the trial.”

The victims had shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of a heart-breaking, shocking and senseless tragedy, Tso said.

“They have our utmost respect and promise that we will be here for them for as long as they need us.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the pleas were a “significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days”.

“I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever. They have inspired all of us to be a kind and more tolerant community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were “shattered” on March 15.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

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FGM doctor arrested in Egypt after girl, 12, bleeds to death | Global development | The Guardian

A doctor has been arrested after the death of a 12-year-old girl he had performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on.

Nada Hassan Abdel-Maqsoud bled to death at a private clinic in Manfalout, close to the city of Assiut, after her parents, uncle and aunt took her for the procedure.

Her parents and aunt were also arrested after reports of her death emerged.

The doctor, 70, carried out the procedure without anaesthesia, without a nurse present and without any qualifications as a surgeon, according to local prosecutors.

The surgeon, known only as “Ali AA” claimed the family brought the girl to him for “plastic surgery” on her genitals.

Family members reportedly admitted that they knew they were taking the child to undergo FGM, and that her mother and aunt had stayed in the room during the procedure.

FGM involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes other external female genital organs. Tradition in some parts of rural Egypt demands that young women undergo FGM as a way of demonstrating sexual purity.

The police and officials carrying out investigations don’t care about domestic and sexual violence, including FGM

Egyptian authorities have struggled for years to eradicate the practice, despite a 2008 ban and new laws in 2016 criminalising parents and doctors who facilitate it. Under the new laws, anyone who performs FGM faces between three and 15 years in prison, while anyone accompanying girls or women to be cut faces up to three years in jail.

But campaigners warned at the time that the new laws were unlikely to combat the practice, given the lack of convictions of doctors and reliance on people to self-report. They also warned more girls could be taken to hospitals or other medical facilities to have the procedure, meaning that complications were less likely but so was public knowledge of the practice itself.

In 2013, 13-year-old Sohair al-Bata’a died as a result of FGM. Raslan Fadl was the first doctor to be convicted of FGM, serving three months of his sentence in a case considered a watershed in convincing Egyptian lawmakers to criminalise the practice.

Fadl was released after reconciling with the Bata’a family, a loophole in the law that campaigners say shields families and doctors from prosecution.

“FGM continues to occur because there is no desire from the political leadership to stop it. The state is tolerant of female genital mutilation despite the presence of law, and despite receiving funds and grants from abroad [to combat it],” said Reda El Danbouki, a lawyer and campaigner against FGM.

He said judges fail to apply the law because they “are affected by a culture which does not see FGM as a crime”.

He added: “The police and the officials carrying out investigations don’t care about domestic and sexual violence, including FGM.”

Danbouki criticised Egypt’s doctors’ syndicate for suspending convicted doctors rather than removing them permanently from the register.

According to Unicef, 87% of of females aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM in Egypt. About 14% of girls under 14 have been cut.

An estimated 27.2 million Egyptian women and girls had been subjected to FGM in 2016, according to Unicef, out of a population of almost 100 million.

Rania Yehia, of Egypt’s National Council for Women, an initiative affiliated to the presidency, said that her organisation would continue to campaign to raise awareness.

Yehia maintained that the strength of tradition in rural Egypt makes the problem hard to combat, but blamed the persistence of the issue on external factors. “This habit comes from outside Egypt. It comes from elsewhere in the continent of Africa … not from north Africa,” she said.

Additional reporting by Adham Youssef

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‘Delete Netflix app on your system’ ⁠— Apostle Suleman reacts to film about ‘gay Jesus’ – TheCable Lifestyle

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Johnson Suleman, general overseer of Omega Fire Ministries, has called on Christians to unsubscribe and delete their accounts on Netflix, an American streaming service, over its movie that depicted Jesus Christ as a closeted homosexual.

The movie, ‘The First Temptation Of Christ’ is a Netflix christmas special from Porta Dos Fundos, a Brazil-based YouTube comedy group.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the cleric rallied all “true” Christians to delete their Netflix accounts in his condemnatory tirade.

“Delete Netflix app on your system. Unfollow them if you are a true Christian. The movie ‘gay Jesus’ is an insult to Christianity and abuse to our sensibilities. We stand to condemn it and all it stands for. Mad people,” he wrote.

Delete Netflix app on your system..unfollow them if you are a true Christian..The movie ‘gay jesus’ is an insult to christianity and abuse to our sensibilities..we stand to condemn it and all it stands for…Mad people…

— Apst Johnson Suleman (@APOSTLESULEMAN) December 15, 2019

He also urged all “believers of Christ” on earth to boycott the movie-streaming giant if they go ahead with the “rubbish”.

“We have 2.5 billion Christians on earth, if Netflix goes ahead with this rubbish, we should boycott them.. that movie is evil, it’s not right and it will not stand,” he wrote.

We have 2.5billion Christians on earth,if Netflix goes ahead with this rubbish,we should boycott them.. that movie is evil,its not right and it will not stand.

— Apst Johnson Suleman (@APOSTLESULEMAN) December 15, 2019

The pastor also predicted the fall of Netflix by saying the release of the movie is the beginning of its end.

“The glory of present-day cinema is Netflix. But since they have decided to blaspheme, its crash is inevitable. You want to do a film ‘gay Jesus’? Its the beginning of your end. We are not cowards cause we are tolerant,” he added.

The glory of present day cinema is Netflix..but since they have decided to blaspheme,its crash is inevitable..you want to do a film ‘gay jesus’?…its the beginning of your end..we are not cowards cause we are tolerant..

— Apst Johnson Suleman (@APOSTLESULEMAN) December 15, 2019

Since it’s release on December 3, the movie has faced intense backlashes on social media platforms.

Last week, 1.34 million people signed a petition for the movie to be pulled down from the streaming service.

It is believed that the comedy group responsible for the film had first created a movie titled ‘The Last Hangover,’ which depicts Jesus’ disciples looking for him on the morning after the Last Supper.

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