New Zealanders are hoping that the life sentence given to Brenton Tarrant — the mass killer who murdered 51 people during an anti-Muslim shooting spree last year — will bring an end to one of the darkest periods in the country’s recent history.
Tarrant, 29, was sentenced on Thursday to life imprisonment without parole.
The whole-of-life sanction, for killings that took place during Friday prayers last March at a mosque and nearby religious center, was a first for the South Pacific nation, which carried out its last execution in 1961 before abolishing the death penalty in the late 1980s.
Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of engaging in an act of terrorism that he livestreamed on Facebook. These terrorist acts, unprecedented in the country’s criminal history, were carried out against Friday worshippers over a period of around 40 minutes at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center.
The Christchurch massacre prompted New Zealand to pass stricter gun laws and buy back certain types of weapons from owners.