Christchurch mosque shooter is considering appeal of life sentence

The lawyer for 31-year-old New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant – who killed 51 people at two mosques in 2019 – said his client is considering an appeal to his life sentence.

Tarrant’s appeal would be on grounds he pled guilty after “inhumane” treatment allegedly experienced while in custody.

Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist who conducted the bloodiest shooting in New Zealand’s history, pleaded guilty in March 2020 to charges of murder, attempted murder, and terrorism. Last August he was sentenced to life without parole, the first such sentence in New Zealand.

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Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis told Radio New Zealand that Tarrant’s treatment “awaiting trial and afterwards” directly affected “his will to carry on and he decided that the simplest way out was to plead guilty.”

“He sent me about 15 pages of narrative of how he had been treated since he’d been in prison,” Ellis revealed, claiming he was allegedly “subject to inhumane or degrading treatment whilst on remand, which prevented a fair trial.”

Tarrant is being kept in solitary confinement in a separate wing of a top security prison in Auckland. The wing, dubbed a “prison within a prison” by the press, reportedly has 18 guards, who monitor Tarrant and two other inmates housed there separately from each other.

Ellis added that Tarrant’s life sentence without the possibility of parole could violate New Zealand’s Bill of Rights.

The lawyer also protested that Tarrant was “no longer being treated as human” through such acts as being referred to as “The Individual” in a document instead of his name.

“Tarrant is no longer a suspect, but a convicted criminal in detention; despite his horrific crimes that part of his legal life is over,” Ellis said. “He has been tried and sentenced and is entitled to be treated as a human.”

Ellis further claimed to have advised his client to appeal the life sentence on the basis of his treatment and said Tarrant was considering such a move.

Tarrant livestreamed himself opening fire on attendees at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. Tarrant decorated the firearms used in the shootings with white supremacist slogans, and in his manifesto, Tarrant expressed admiration for Norwegian neo-Nazi mass shooter Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people and injured hundreds more in the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks.

Breivik repeatedly complained about the conditions of his solitary confinement, calling them inhumane. In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed his case against the Norwegian Correctional Service.

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FILE PHOTO: Brenton Tarrant during his sentencing. ©John Kirk-Anderson / Pool via REUTERS
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