Skip to content

Illustration by Security Management

New Zealand Terrorist Receives Historic Life Sentence

Mass murderer and white supremacist Brenton Tarrant was sentenced on 27 August to life in prison for killing 51 people and injuring dozens more when he shot at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tarrant will have no chance of parole, according to The Washington Post. The sentencing was levied for the deaths, 40 counts of attempted murder, and one count of terrorism—all of which amounted to the deadliest act of terrorism in the country’s history.

His sentence is a first for the country as no criminal before in New Zealand has received a life sentence with no opportunity for parole.

On 15 March 2019, Tarrant attacked Muslim worshipers of the Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre, live-streaming on Facebook as he killed and shot at those observing Friday morning prayers. He also published an online manifesto prior to the attacks.

Initially, Tarrant pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he later reversed his plea to guilty almost one year after the March 2019 shootings. Although he self-identified as an Australian neo-Nazi last year, prior to the sentencing Tarrant’s lawyers claim he has since “regretted his actions, had changed his beliefs, and wanted to meet his victims.”

During the four-day sentencing hearing, where survivors and families of the victims confronted him and delivered 91 statements to the court in a socially distanced manner, Judge Cameron Mander noted that Tarrant showed little reaction or empathy. “To my observation, you remain entirely self-absorbed,” Mander said.

Authorities are conducting a separate inquiry to determine if intelligence and law-enforcement agencies missed or failed to follow up on warnings about Tarrant prior to the shootings. 

ASIS International and Security Management have information and resources on protecting soft targets and cultural sites.