White supremacist who killed 51 in New Zealand mosque attacks files appeal

Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people in attacks on mosques in New Zealand
Brenton Tarrant appears in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder in Christchurch, New Zealand, in August 2020.
(John Kirk-Anderson / Associated Press)

The man who slaughtered 51 Muslim worshipers during the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history is appealing his conviction and sentence.

New Zealand’s Court of Appeal confirmed Tuesday that gunman Brenton Tarrant filed the appeal last week. The court said a hearing date has yet to be set.

Tarrant, a white supremacist, gunned down worshipers at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers in March 2019. He left dozens of others with severe injuries in the attack, which he livestreamed on Facebook.


The following year, Tarrant, an Australian national, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the maximum available sentence in New Zealand.

The details of his appeal were not immediately made available by the court.

In previous court documents, Tarrant, 32, claimed he was subject to “inhuman or degrading treatment” while being held for months in solitary confinement after the shooting, which prevented a fair trial. He said he pleaded guilty only under duress.

A new report says New Zealand’s intelligence agencies were so focused on Islamic extremism that they neglected threats such as white supremacism.

Dec. 8, 2020

Tarrant fired one of his lawyers in 2021, and it wasn’t immediately clear if another lawyer was representing him in his appeal or if he was representing himself.

Temel Atacocugu, who survived after being shot nine times during the attack at the Al Noor mosque, told news outlet Stuff that the gunman was playing games and seeking attention by filing the appeal.

“I would like to tell him: ‘Grow up, be a man and die quietly in jail, because that is what you deserve,’” Atacocugu said.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had made a pledge a long time ago not to publicly say the terrorist’s name.

The milestone places New Zealand among a half-dozen nations in the world that can claim at least 50% female representation in their parliaments.

Oct. 26, 2022

“His is a story that should not be told and his is a name that should not be repeated, and I am going to apply that same rule in commenting on his attempts to re-victimize people,” Ardern said. “We should give him nothing.”

The attacks prompted New Zealand to quickly pass new laws which banned the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. In a subsequent buyback scheme, gun owners handed over more than 50,000 weapons to police.

The attacks also prompted global changes to social media, as tech companies sought to prevent or quickly stop future attacks from being livestreamed.