Man accused of Christchurch Mosque attacks to face 50 murder charges

Tributes to the victims of the mosque shootings line the roads

JOSEPH JOHNSON STUFFTributes to the victims of the mosque shootings line the roads

A New Zealand judge has ordered the man accused of killing 50 people at two New Zealand mosques to undergo two mental health tests to determine if he is fit to enter pleas in the case.

Survivors and relatives of those killed in the March 15 attack packed into a Christchurch courtroom as alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant appeared via audio-visual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland.

Prison officials say Tarrant is under 24-hour surveillance with no access to media, according to news reports. It's standard for defendants to be evaluated by two health experts to determine their fitness for trial.

Brenton Tarrant is to stand before Christchurch High Court on Friday, as police revealed that further charges remain under consideration.

He was charged at the time with one count of murder and remanded in custody without a plea.

Tarrant's first court appearance, the day after the shooting, was closed to the general public and Friday's hearing was the first chance for many to catch a glimpse of the accused.

Despite the extra security measures, the suspect, who arrived in handcuffs, was pictured making what appeared to be a hand gesture associated with the white supremacist movement.

Tarrant had sacked a court-appointed lawyer after the initial court appearance, raising fears he wanted to represent himself and attempt to use any trial as a right-wing propaganda platform.

Worshippers are seen praying on freshly laid underlay at Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on Thursday.

Following the attack, New Zealanders came together to offer support and solidarity to the victims and the wider Muslim community. He killed 50 people and he doesn't look like he's bothered. Police initially filed a single, representative murder charge before filing the additional charges this week.

The gunman broadcast his attack live on Facebook. I want to reaffirm that today.

"It's not going to bring our loved ones back".

The government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech and called for social media giants to do more to combat online extremism.

Although journalists may attend and take notes, media coverage will be restricted.

"This is not New Zealand", Ardern said, condemning the attack on March 16. They had been told clearly that he was unable to see them.

Hodge said New Zealand and Australia were trying to preserve the ancient common-law approach to a fair trial, but that it seemed quaint in an era where people could easily find more information or images on the internet.

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