Christchurch massacre suspect ordered to undergo mental tests

Christchurch massacre suspect ordered to undergo mental tests

Mr Tarrant appeared in the courtroom - packed with relatives of some of his victims - via video link from prison. Lawyers said it could take two or three months to complete.

Justice Mander said the next court date is June 14, and that "it will be decided on that day if the accused is fit to plead depending on the mental health assessments".

Criminal charges, such as murder and attempted murder are easier to pursue, although prosecutors may want the accused tried as a terrorist to make the point that right-wing extremism is just as unsafe as its Islamic counterpart.

While families in the court cried quietly as Tarrant appeared on screen, handcuffed with his hands in front of him, he appeared relaxed, looking around the room at times.

"I didn't see any emotion on his face", Tofazzal Alam, who survived the attack on the mosque in Linwood, told reporters afterwards.

He is accused of shooting dead 50 people and injuring dozens more after opening fire in two mosques during Friday prayers, live-streaming the killing spree on social media.

New Zealand's Corrections Department revealed last month that the defendant was separated from other prisoners and could be observed constantly, either directly by staff or through CCTV cameras.

Media had reported that Tarrant wished to represent himself and legal experts have said he may try to use the hearings as a platform to present his ideology and beliefs.

As the case is before the court, Police is not in a position to comment further.

Mander suppressed the names of the 39 survivors, citing concern for their welfare. He has not applied for bail or name suppression, and his duty lawyer described him as "aware, lucid" in the hours following the massacre, and presenting as an "everyday sort of person".

The High Court received 12 applications from both New Zealand media and foreign organisations to film, take photographs or make audio recordings at Friday's hearing.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled the massacre an act of terrorism and quickly introduced tough new firearm laws which banned semi-automatic weapons.

On Thursday, the Australian government passed strict new laws which aim to stop the spread of violent content online, threatening fines and jail time if videos are not removed quickly.

"Everybody has their own problems and they have their own ideas about religions, and that's fine, and we should all have that, we're all different", said one nun, Sister Dorothea.

"But we're all humans and that's the most important thing, our humanity".

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