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On 15th March, 2019, the peace of the Friday afternoon prayers in New Zealand was disrupted by the sound of gunshots and what followed was nothing short of a gory act.

It was the day that Brendon Tarrant had brutally killed forty-four people at the Al-Noor mosque and seven more at the Linwood mosque in Christchurch. He showed no mercy as he opened fire at the harmless crowd. He didn’t even spare children as young as 3-years-old. He has admitted to being a White supremacist and has expressed his intolerance towards the Muslim community.

Today, a sliver of hope remains for the victims who have demanded justice ever since the infamous incident as the man held guilty has been produced before the court for his four-day sentence hearing.

Making a rather sudden move, Tarrant recently fired his lawyers and decided to defend his case himself. This gives him room to promote his abhorrent views, which have inspired other attacks. A law professor at the University of Waikato, Alexander Gillespie said, “This is his last public performance, so for someone who has committed such an act, you can guarantee he (Tarrant) will try to do something — and you just have to reduce that risk.” Hence, security has been doubled.

Although, Tarrant seems largely unaffected and doesn’t speak of experiencing any remorse. In the court hearing on Monday, he wore an unbothered look on his face during the confrontation with the victims and relatives of the deceased.

The victims revisited the horrific incident, expressing their grief over the loss of their loved ones, and the survivors spoke of the trauma that they continue to endure and fight their way out of, with some willing to forgive Tarrant, while others don’t find themselves on the same boat. But, this hearing will be historic for several reasons.

The charges pressed on Tarrant are: murder, attempt to murder and terrorism. What makes this hearing stand out is not only the intensity of the crime committed, but also the restrictions outlined by Judge Cameron Mander on media coverage. What is to be published will be what is told by the judge, who aims to keep provocative and hatred inciting statements from being circulated among the common masses. He stated that the reason behind such limitations was to curb the instigation of further crimes and to ensure that court decorum was maintained.

Live translation of the proceedings into eight languages will be conducted to accommodate the diversity of the Muslim community. As it is a sensitive time for the victims and their kin, victim support workers and mental health specialists will also be present.

The country had abolished death penalty in 1961, making life imprisonment the most stringent criminal punishment. Sentencing Act calls for a minimum period of imprisonment before being granted parole- ten years for murder and can be extended, according to the crime, to at least seventeen years.

Tarrant is to face life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 17 years. Such a sentence has never before been imposed in New Zealand crime locals believe that that streak will be broken by Tarrant’s case; he will be able to appeal whatever sentence he receives.

Following the bloodshed was a stream of reforms made by the government to set boundaries on the usage of weapons- a ban was imposed on semiautomatic guns. This amendment in the National gun laws has resulted in the banning of gun buyback (a scheme to purchase privately owned firearms), and has collected 56,250 prohibited firearms.

According to the Global Peace Index rankings for 2019, New Zealand stood high up on the board at 2nd place. In such cases, an idea can deem to be more dangerous than a gun. Such extreme ideologies often shroud the basic foundations humanity. In the land of the Kiwis which has set standards of harmonious and peaceful coexistence for the rest of the world, terrorism was an alien term. Alas, New Zealand could boast of its low crime rates only before this incident, which has been called the worst mass shooting in the history of the now grieving country.

Reporter- Sukruthi Sanampudi