‘New Zealand mosque shooter’ smirks as he pleads not guilty

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THE man accused of carrying out a terrorist attack at a New Zealand mosque where 51 worshippers were brutally gunned down smirked as his not guilty plea was entered.

Australian Brenton Tarrant who is accused of killing dozens of Muslims at two mosques in the city of Christchurch pleaded not guilty to all charges on Friday local time (Thursday night GMT). 

The 29-year-old appeared by video link and entered his plea through his lawyers. 

New Zealand’s High Court Justice Camero Mander said his trial would start on May 4 next year. 

Tarrant will be held in jail until August 16, when a case review hearing is set to take place. 

He faces a total of 92 charges after the country filed two further attempted murder charges, one more murder charge and one terrorism charge. 

It is the first time a terrorism charge has been brought in New Zealand. 

Tarrant stood facing the camera from a high-security facility in the capital Auckland, mostly with an impassive expression but smirking at times including as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. 

About 80 members of Christchurch’s Muslim community sat at the back of the court during his appearance. 

Some of them gasped when Tarrant’s lawyers entered the plea. 

At the last hearing on April 5, the court ordered Tarrant to undergo mental assessment first to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. 

The Judge said on Friday there were no issues arising from mental health assessments and that the defendant is fit to stand trial. 

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