50 murder charges laid down against Christchurch terror-accused

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A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered the accused Christchurch shooter to complete a psychiatric assessment to determine if he is fit to face trial for the murder of 50 Muslim worshippers.

In breaking news, New Zealand Police have announced that further charges have been laid regarding the Christchurch terror attacks last month.

The massacre, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled terrorism, was New Zealand's worst peacetime mass killing.

Mander also ordered Tarrant, who appeared in court via an audio-visual link from Auckland Prison some 620 miles from Christchurch in Paremoremo, to undergo a mental health report, which he said was normal procedure.

The police have stated that other charges against the accused, identified as a 28-year-old white man from Australia, are "still under consideration".

The day after the attacks, Tarrant dismissed an appointed lawyer, saying he wanted to represent himself.

He is not required to enter a plea.

On March 15, Tarrant stormed two mosques during the Friday congregational prayers and indiscriminately opened fire on the assembled, as per the police.

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He appeared briefly in the District Court on March 16.

During the scheduled court hearing, media photographs won't be allowed and reporting on the proceedings will be severely restricted under New Zealand law.

Tofazzal Alam, 25, said he was at the Linwood mosque when the gunman attacked.

Justice Mander also suppressed the names of those Tarrant is accused of attempting to kill.

"The principal objective of the call on 5 April will be to ascertain the defendant's position regarding legal representation and to receive information from the Crown regarding certain procedural steps and when it is envisaged those steps will be completed", Mander said, according to Reuters.

The public gallery was packed to standing capacity with members of the Muslim community and journalists from New Zealand and around the world.

Criminal charges, such as murder and attempted murder are easier to pursue, although prosecutors may want the accused tried as a terrorist to make the point that right-wing extremism is just as unsafe as its Islamic counterpart.

It said he had no access to television, radio or newspapers and no visitors.