WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The gunman who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand’s worst mass shooting faces a life prison term, possibly without parole, with multi-day sentencing hearings taking place this week.
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.
The second day of hearings on Tuesday is dedicated to allowing survivors and family members of victims to address the court, in person and via video.
Below are quotes from Tuesday’s court proceedings:
NATHAN SMITH - SURVIVOR FROM AL NOOR MOSQUE
“I held a three-year-old boy in my arms praying he was alive. He was not. You took him away.”
“When you get a free minute, which you will have plenty of. Funny, eh? Very funny. Maybe you should try to read the Koran. It’s beautiful.”
IBRAHIM MOHAMED ABDELHALIM - IMAM OF LINWOOD ISLAMIC CENTRE
“The actions of the defendant have affected not only our community, but all of New Zealand. I feel the actions of the defendant are a terrorist act and a racist act. I believe he has acted as the far right, or extreme right, which I am totally against.”
“New Zealand gave my family a home 24 years ago. I do not accept the defendant’s actions against people he did not know. Fighting and killing people does not achieve anything and is not in Islamic thinking. We will need to talk, understand and ask questions to remove confusion.”
AMBREEN NAEEM - WIFE OF NAEEM RASHID, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE TRYING TO STOP TARRANT; MOTHER OF TALHA NAEEM, ALSO KILLED
“Naeem died trying to save others and his act of bravery is something his sons will always feel proud for. His death was a reflection of his life.”
“Since my husband and son passed away I have never had a proper normal sleep. I don’t think I ever will. That is why his punishment should continue forever. No one ever stopped him from going to the mosque. He was greeted with hello brother when he entered the mosque.”
ANGELA ARMSTRONG - DAUGHTER OF LINDA ARMSTRONG, A CONVERT TO ISLAM WHO WAS KILLED AT LINWOOD MOSQUE
“You robbed me of my mother, of her love and strength. Likely you will also never again feel the love and warmth of your mother’s hug either. While I have pity for your mum, I have no emotion for you. You are nothing.”
“While he will remain trapped in a cage, my mum’s free. I therefore challenge Tarrant to use his remaining lifetime to consider the beauty and life to be found in diversity and freedom that he sought to distort and destroy.”
KYRON GOSSE - NEPHEW OF LINDA ARMSTRONG
“I want you to understand my utter rage when I learnt this man was a guest to New Zealand. This man is not one of us, but that didn’t stop him from slaughtering us. He entered into our home with ill intentions and hate in his heart, only to repay our hospitality by murdering our family and our guests, people who we welcome into this country with the promise of a better life. He stole that safety and security from them, just as he stole our nation’s innocence.”
“He immigrated to a land that my family called home for seven generations, and killed our loved ones in cold blood. And for what? He had no issue with Linda Armstrong. Filled with his own racist agenda this coward hid behind his big powerful guns and shot little old Linda from afar.”
MIRWAIS WAZIRI - INJURED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“Because I was from Afghanistan...people were calling me a terrorist. But you took that name from me. Today, you are called terrorist and you proved to the world that us Muslims are not terrorists. I say to the people of New Zealand that terrorists do not have religion, race and colour. We are not terrorists.”
ZUHAIR DARWISH - BROTHER OF KAMEL (MOH’D KAMAL) KAMEL DARWISH, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“You live like a rat and you deserve that. You are going to die alone like a virus everybody avoids. The fair punishment for him would be death penalty. I know in New Zealand law they removed death penalty for humans, but unfortunately he’s not a human.”
HAZEM MOHAMMED - SURVIVOR FROM AL NOOR MOSQUE
“I want you not to let this man see the sun. Never, ever. We don’t want him to get parole. This man has to stay in prison forever. He’s not showing any remorse...look at him.”
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sam Holmes
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