50 Murder Counts Filed on NZ Mosque Attack Suspect

In this March 17, 2019, file photo, a police officer stands guard in front of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Vincent Yu / Associated Press
In this March 17, 2019, file photo, a police officer stands guard in front of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Vincent Yu / Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Police say the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges at his court appearance on Friday.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, had been charged with one count of murder after his arrest the day of the March 15 massacre.

Fifty people were killed in the two mosques and dozens of others were shot and wounded.

Tarrant won’t be required to enter a plea on Friday. The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant’s legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.

Tarrant earlier dismissed lawyer Richard Peters, who was assigned to represent him at his first court appearance. Many worry that Tarrant will try to use the trial as a soapbox to push his white supremacist views.

New Zealand tightly restricts what can be reported about upcoming court cases to avoid tainting the views of potential jurors.

The judge said he had received applications from 25 media organizations to take film, photographs or audio recordings of the hearing but he denied all of them. He said reporters could remain throughout and take notes.