New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant sacks lawyer, chooses to represent himself in court
Brenton Tarrant, 28, who entered New Zealand without a visa and murdered 50 people, could be deported to his home country of Australia before serving his sentence
Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old white supremacist who gunned down 50 people at the Al-Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch on Friday, has sacked his lawyer and now plans to represent himself in court.
According to the NZ Herald, Tarrant's court-appointed attorney, Richard Peters, confirmed that he would no longer be representing the 28-year-old. While he admitted that Tarrant's behavior might seem "irrational," he said that the killer was "quite clear and lucid."
"He didn't appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views," Peters said. He also said Tarrant had not displayed any regret for his actions or condolences for the victims.
The news has raised fears that Tarrant would use the highly-publicized trial to spread his anti-Muslim rhetoric and extremist propaganda, both of which he detailed in a 74-page, 16,500-word manifesto he uploaded before carrying out the attack.
Peters conceded that such a scenario could be a possibility. "I suspect that he won't shy away from publicity, and that will probably be the way he runs the trial," he said. "The job of the trial judge will be to deal with that. But it's not a place for any views to be put forward. It's simply there to determine innocence or guilt. The court is not going to be very sympathetic to him if he wants to use the trial to express his own views."
He also said that it was possible that the court would still provide Tarrant with an amicus curiae — a lawyer who would be there not to tell him what questions to ask or how to conduct the case but to advise him on the court's rules and how to conduct the defense properly.
Tarrant is currently facing one count of murder, with more charges, including ones from the Terrorism Suppression Act, expected to be brought against him in the coming days. He is being held at a secure correctional facility where he has been segregated from other prisoners and is being observed 24-7.
According to the Daily Mail, the 28-year-old faces life in prison if convicted and is a "marked man" behind bars. A gang who visited the Hagley High School in Christchurch to express their condolences and slam the attack claimed they had "friends inside [prison] too."
However, it's still possible that Tarrant, who entered New Zealand without a visa and was living in Dunedin before he carried out the attack, could be deported to his home country of Australia before serving his sentence.
Tarrant has not applied for bail or asked that his name is suppressed and is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on April 5.