WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The gunman who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand’s worst mass shooting faces a life prison term, possibly without parole, after multi-day sentencing hearings that started on Monday.
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, has pleaded guilty to 51 murder charges, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act. High Court judge Cameron Mander will hear about 66 victim impact statements, according to the court.
Below are quotes from Monday’s court proceedings:
CROWN PROSECUTOR BARNABY HAWES
“On Jan 8, 2019, the defendant conducted a reconnaissance of Al Noor mosque. The defendant took a position opposite the mosque and flew a drone directly over it to try film and record an aerial view of the mosque and surrounding buildings...The defendant’s intention was to burn down the mosques at the conclusion of the attacks.”
“He admitted the incendiary devices were to bring the mosques down...he said he wished he had done so.”
“He stated he wanted to have shot more people than he did.”
“He intended to instil fear into those he described as invaders – including the Muslim population and more generally non-European immigrants.”
Speaking about 3-year old Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim of the attack:
“He was clinging to his father’s leg. The defendant aimed directly at Mucaad and shot him.”
GAMAL FOUDA, IMAM OF AL NOOR MOSQUE
“I can say to the family of the terrorist that they have lost a son and we have lost many from our community too. I respect them because they are suffering as we are. Australia is our neighbour and we are all one against hate and racism.
“I would like to say to the terrorist that you were misguided and misled. We are peaceful and a loving community who did not deserve your actions. We go to the mosque for peace and worship. Your hatred is unnecessary. If you have done anything you have brought the whole community closer with your evil actions.”
MAYSOON SALAMA, MOTHER OF ATA ELAYYAN, WHO WAS KILLED IN ATTACK
“I can’t forgive you…you gave yourself the authority to take the souls of 51 people. Our only crime in your eyes is that we are Muslims.
“You killed your own humanity and I don’t think the world will forgive you for your horrible crime. May you get the severest punishment for your evil act in this life, and hereafter.
“You thought you can break us…you failed miserably. Ata is gone, but never forgotten. He will always be the light of our eyes. And we will live his legacy.”
KHALED MAJED ABD’EL RAUF ALNOBANI, WHO WAS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE (VIA TRANSLATOR)
“I have not returned to full-time work because I am struggling with everyday life. My behaviour has changed because I lost some of my friends.”
TAJ MOHAMMAD KAMRAN, WHO WAS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“I cry a lot now…the memory of the shooting is very difficult for me. I can’t sleep properly now. I am angry very easily now. I don’t go to mosques much as I am scared.”
“My body still hurts from the injuries. I was shot three times in the same leg. I can’t easily move around. I have too much pressure and too many problems now. The doctors say they can’t help me anymore. I still have about 1,000 bits of shrapnel in my body that will be there. It can’t be removed.”
IKRAM PATEL, ELDEST SON OF MUSA VALI SULEMAN PATEL, WHO DIED AT LINWOOD MOSQUE
“My family and I, and all other families affected by this tragedy, are victims of Islamophobia. Like all forms of racism and bigotry it is based on illogical and faulty thinking. And its perpetrators not only commit horrific crimes but also actively spread misinformation and propaganda, and infect other minds.”
JANNA EZAT, MOTHER OF HUSSEIN AL-UMARI, WHO DIED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“The damage was done and Hussein will never be here. So I have only one choice, that is to forgive you.”
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sam Holmes
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