The Australian suspect arrested after dozens of worshippers were shot in two mosques appeared unrepentant in court in New Zealand on Saturday, staring down media members with a smirk on his face.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in a Christchurch District Court and was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city’s High Court on April 5.
Handcuffed, shoeless, and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak. His court-appointed lawyer made no application for bail or name suppression.
He flashed an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Christchurch, said the suspect locked eyes intensely with journalists.
“He came into court, he didn’t say anything at all. He stood there looking directly at the media in the courtroom and was smirking throughout his appearance,” Thomas reported.
Judge Paul Kellar allowed photos to be taken but ordered that the face of the former fitness instructor be blurred to preserve fair-trial rights.
Two other suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand – a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.
None of those arrested had a criminal history or was on any watchlist in New Zealand or Australia.
With 49 people killed in the mosque attacks, it was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history. Funerals were planned on Saturday for some of the victims.
Medical staff said 39 wounded people were being treated in hospitals, 11 in critical condition including a four-year-old girl. Victims were from across the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.