The main suspect in the Christchurch attacks in March, has pleaded not guilty to all charges leveled against him.
Brenton Tarrant is charged with the murder of 51 people, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in New Zealand’s deadliest peace time mass shooting.
The self-proclaimed white supremacist appeared in court via audio-visual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland for the brief hearing.
His barrister, Shane Tait told Christchurch High Court his client was pleading “not guilty to all charges”, prompting anger from survivors and relatives of those killed in the March 15 attacks.
High Court Justice Cameron Mander has adjourned the trial for May 4, 2020, and ruled that Tarrant be remanded in custody until a case review hearing on 16 August.
At his last court appearance in April, the suspect was ordered to undergo mental health assessments to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. But the court heard that mental health assessments had found Tarrant was fit to stand trial.
“No issue arises regarding the defendant’s fitness to plead, to instruct counsel, and to stand his trial. A fitness hearing is not required,” Judge Cameron Mander said in a statement issued shortly after the hearing.
Tarrant allegedly opened fire in the packed Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers, then travelled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque, while livestreaming his actions on social media.
The attack prompted New Zealand’s government to tightened the country’s gun laws and also review laws dealing with hate speech.