Brenton Tarrant, the self-confessed white supremacist accused of killing 50 people at two Christchurch mosques last month, has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder before a court appearance on Friday.
Thursday’s additional charges laid by the police could mean that, if found guilty, Tarrant could be the first person sentenced in a New Zealand court to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Brenton, the 28-year-old, who will be representing himself, will appear at the High Court in Christchurch on Friday morning by video from prison in Auckland. He will have the opportunity to enter a plea. Otherwise, the short procedural hearing will be used to set dates for his future court appearances, including a possible trial date.
On Thursday, the government held a single day of public hearings as it rushed to implement new gun-control laws, due to be passed on April 11.
The law change – which enjoys broad support in parliament – would ban most types of semi-automatic weapons, including those used in the March attacks.
There are also calls for New Zealand to begin recording hate crimes, something the police have never done before.