WELLINGTON — A right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a shooting rampage that left 49 mosque-goers dead flashed a white power gesture as he appeared in a New Zealand court Saturday and was charged with murder.
Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant stood in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read a single murder charge against him. A raft of further charges are expected.
The former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look at media present in court during the brief hearing that the public were excluded from for security reasons.
Flanked by armed police, he made an upside-down “Okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for April 05.
A short distance from the court, 39 people were being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds and other injuries inflicted in the massacre. The wounded included a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, who was in a critical condition.
Doctors at Christchurch hospital said that they worked through the night in 12 operating theatres to treat the survivors.
The attack on the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques has been labelled terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.