A court in New Zealand has handed down a life sentence without parole to the shooter who gunned down 51 Muslims while they prayed in mosques in Christchurch last year.
The story that sent shockwaves throughout the world, which was motivated by the shooter, Breyton Tarrant’s white supremacist beliefs, has finally ended with some degree of justice being served. Although High Court Judge Cameron Mander said that the sentence, which is the harshest ever handed down, was not sufficient punishment for the 29-year-old Australian’s crimes.
“Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation,” Mander said, according to Al Jazeera.
“As far as I can discern, you are empty of any empathy for your victims.”
The shooter pleaded guilty before a New Zealand court earlier this year on 51 charges of murder and one charge of an act of terrorism, which he recorded in a Facebook livestream. Prosecutors claim that Tarrant had been planning the attacks out for a long time, with the intention of creating fear in immigrants.
Meanwhile, one of the survivors of the rampage, Temel Atacocugu, who was shot nine times at the Al Noor mosque, told AP that he felt relieved after the sentence was handed down.
“Finally we can breathe freely, and we feel secure, and my kids feel secure. The justice system has locked up this ideology forever.”
Imam of Al Noor, Gamal Fouda, said “no punishment would bring our loved ones back”, but that he was proud of his country’s response to this despicable act of extremism.
“We respect our justice system, and in the New Zealand Muslim community, and the non-Muslim as well – we stood together against hate. And with it, our own model for the world. Extremists are all the same. Whether they use religions, nationalism or any other ideology,” he said. “All extremists, they represent hate. but we are here today. We represent love, compassion, Muslim and non-Muslim people of faith and of no faith. That is us, New Zealanders, and we are very proud that we are Muslims in New Zealand and we’ll continue to serve this country, and no punishment again is going to bring our loved ones back.”
Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern was also relieved that “that person will never see the light of day”.
“The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed, but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves… a lifetime of complete and utter silence,” she said.