SYDNEY (Reuters) - The suspected white supremacist who killed 51 Muslim worshippers last year, a massacre that prompted a global campaign to stamp out online hate, arrived in Christchurch on Sunday ahead of sentencing hearings.
Brenton Tarrant disembarked a New Zealand air force plane at Christchurch Airport on Sunday afternoon, wearing a protective vest and helmet and escorted by armed officers, before being directed into the back of a white van, television footage showed.
He has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act. [nL4N2BI5KT]
Tarrant was transported to Christchurch, the city where the shootings occurred, from Auckland Prison at Paremoremo, the New Zealand Herald reported.
A court in Christchurch will begin multi-day sentencing hearings on Monday, where survivors of the attack and family members of those killed will deliver victim impact statements. [nL4N2FL0AF]
Tarrant, an Australian, will be sentenced after being allowed to make a statement.
Murder convictions carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge can impose a life term without the possibility of release, a sentence that has never been used in New Zealand.
A police spokeswoman declined to comment on Tarrant’s movements, referring Reuters to the country’s Department of Corrections. A spokeswoman there declined to comment, citing “the interests of public safety and operational security”.
Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Jonathan Barrett and William Mallard
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