- Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian suspected of killing 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand last week, fired his lawyer and plans to represent himself in court.
- His lawyer, Richard Peters, said Tarrant “didn’t appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views.”
- Tarrant may try to discuss his extremist views at his next court hearing, Peters said.
The man suspected of killing at least 50 people in mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday fired his lawyer and plans to represent himself in court, the lawyer said.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen, was charged with murder on Saturday. Footage from the hearing showed Tarrant forming his right hand into an inverted “OK” symbol, a gesture often associated with white supremacists, and reporters described him smirking at the media during the hearing.
The court-appointed lawyer who represented Tarrant on Saturday, Richard Peters, told The New Zealand Herald and Agence France-Presse on Monday that the suspect has since sacked him and said he wanted to represent himself in the future.
Peters appeared to dismiss suggestions that Tarrant was not mentally fit for trial.
“What did seem apparent to me is he seemed quite clear and lucid, whereas this may seem like very irrational behaviour,” Peters told the Herald.
“He didn’t appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views.”
Peters said Tarrant didn’t explain why he wanted to represent himself in court, but it could be because he wanted to use the trial as a platform to amplify his extremist views.
“I suspect that he won’t shy away from publicity, and that will probably be the way he runs the trial,” Peters told ther Herald.
“The court is not going to be very sympathetic to him if he wants to use the trial to express his own views,” he added.
Tarrant is due in the High Court of New Zealand on April 5. He is currently being held in a “specialist security” facility under 24-hour observation. He neither applied for bail nor requested that the media suppress his identity, the Herald said.