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.
Dozens of survivors and families of victims have addressed the court this week and many have urged High Court judge Cameron Mander to sentence Tarrant to the most severe sentence.
Below are quotes from Wednesday’s court proceedings:
ABDUL AZIZ WAHABZADAH - CONFRONTED TARRANT AT LINWOOD ISLAMIC CENTRE
“We are both from the same country. Citizens of the same country Australia. But I hold the flag of Australia with peace, love. But that coward holds the flag of Australia with hate and shame.”
“I saw the fear in his eyes when he was running for his life. He tried to put division. He tried to put hate between Muslim, Hindu, Christian any other religion but he failed. We all got together...everybody got together.”
JUSTICE CAMERON MANDER - ADDRESSING ABDUL AZIZ WAHABZADAH
“Before you go, I’ve seen the video and want to acknowledge your courage.”
ADEN IBRAHIM DIRIYE (STATEMENT READ BY FAMILY MEMBER) - FATHER OF THREE-YEAR-OLD MUCAAD IBRAHIM, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“You have killed my son and to me it is as if you have killed the whole of New Zealand.”
“He used to engage and play with the police; at home he would run around the house pretending to be a cop and wear police uniform. We thought one day he might become a police officer.”
“I don’t know you, I never hurt you, your father, mother and any of your friends. Rather I am the type of person who would help you and your family with anything.”
“Know that true justice is waiting for you in the next life and that will be far more severe. I will never forgive you for what you have done.”
SARA QASEM - DAUGHTER OF ABDELFATTAH QASEM, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“He could have left but he stayed behind to help his brothers. Doing for others before himself. Putting others before himself.
“My father, the apple of our eyes Abdelfattah Qasem, he had a name. I wonder if he was in pain, if he was frightened, and what his final thoughts were. And I wish more than anything in the world that I could have been there to hold his hand and tell him it would all be ok. But I couldn’t do that.
“I never would have ever imagined that the country my parents immigrated to for safety and for a successful future for their children would result in this.”
“I urge you to take a look around this court room and ask yourself who exactly is the other here right now? Is it us or is it you? I think the answer’s pretty clear.”
MUSTAFA BOZTAS - WOUNDED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“...You are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world. You are classified as someone who is dumb enough not to realise that beyond the skin all humans are the same, and all have the same internal organs and function the same. You will be remembered, but as a scared killer and nothing more.”
AHAD NABI - SON OF HAJI MOHEMMED DAOUD NABI, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“Your father was a garbage man and you became trash of society. He is ashamed of your identity. You deserve to be buried in a landfill. This world was created with colour, a peasant like you will never change the human race.”
“Allah allowed your small plan to go ahead for the people to see the bigger picture and to be aware of our evil surrounding. Your actions on that day displayed what a coward you are. You shot at defenceless people that were not aware of what was going on until they knew it was too late.”
“My 71-year-old dad would have broken you in half if you had challenged him to a fight. But you are weak, a sheep with a wolf’s jacket on for only 10 minutes of your whole life.”
HAMIMAH TUYAN - WIFE OF ZEKERIYA TUYAN, WHO WAS KILLED AT AL NOOR MOSQUE
“You put bullets into my husband and he fought death for 48 days, 18 surgeries until his last breath. His status then was uplifted to martyr from hero and for me from wife to martyr’s widow.”
“He deserves not a life imprisonment of 17, 20, 25 or 30 years but a life imprisonment until his last gasp, his last breath. It will be grave injustice if he should be ever given a second chance to walk in society again.”
Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sam Holmes
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