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Christchurch terrorist gets legal advice to appeal against sentence

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people, at Christchurch High Court in New Zealand on August 27, 2020 [John Kirk-Anderson - Pool/Getty Images]
Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people, at Christchurch High Court in New Zealand on August 27, 2020 [John Kirk-Anderson - Pool/Getty Images]

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white supremacist who was sentenced to life for carrying out the 2019 Christchurch attacks in New Zealand, has been advised by his newly appointed attorney to appeal against his ruling, his lawyer said on Monday.

"I advised my client to appeal his sentence and conviction," Tony Ellis told Radio New Zealand, claiming that Tarrant "believed his right to a fair trial was compromised", which constituted "breach of the Bill of Rights."

During his trial, Tarrant had pleaded guilty to killing 51 people and injuring 40 others at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March, 2019.

Ellis said Terrant was "considering" filing a plea against the life sentence issued last year in August and under which Tarrant cannot apply for parole.

The lawyer made the claim in his communication with Chief Coroner, Judge Deborah Marshall. A coronial inquiry will now be launched into the mass killing.

"The shooter said his guilty pleas were obtained by 'duress' and the conditions under which he pleaded needed to be taken into consideration," said the attorney.

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"It could be a breach of the Bill of Rights because he was subject to inhumane or degrading treatment whilst on remand, which prevented a fair trial," he added. "He sent me about 15 pages of narrative of how he had been treated since he'd been in prison."

The lawyer also raised objections against the court not identifying Tarrant by his name in communications.

A relative of one mosque attack victim described Tarrant's claim as "seeking attention."

"Every now and again, it's like there's some personality deficit where he just seeks more attention. It's like he's a narcissist, you know? He just enjoys that attention," Rosemary Omar was quoted as saying by Radio New Zealand.

Omar's 24-year-old son, Tariq, was among the victims of Tarrant's mass shooting at Al Noor Mosque.

Experts say it would be a monumental task for Tarrant to prove his claims.

Soon after Tarrant was sentenced, New Zealand's parliament passed new counter-terrorism legislation last year, granting more powers to security agencies in their efforts to fight terrorism.

The Bill was part of a government move to implement the recommendation of a royal commission probe into Tarrant's terror attacks.

Under the law, security agencies will also have powers to enter, search and monitor premises without a warrant.

Weapons or combat training for terrorist purposes was also criminalised, as was travelling to, from or via New Zealand with the intent to carry out a terror offense.

It also expanded offenses related to terror financing to include "wider forms of support" such as goods and services.

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