The white supremacist terrorist who attacked two mosques in New Zealand, killing 51 and wounding at least 40, has passed up the chance to speak in his own defence when he is sentenced tomorrow.

Breton Tarrant has pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one count of terrorism, and is in the midst of a week-long sentencing hearing in Christchurch, where the attack took place on March 15, 2019.

Tarrant, who posted a 74-page manifesto online before launching his attack, had earlier sacked his defence team in favour of defending himself – giving him the opportunity to speak before judgement is passed at the High Court.

But he has now announced via a court-appointed lawyer that he will not speak during Thursday’s hearing, and will instead have a statement read out on his behalf.

Tarrant’s decision to silence himself comes at the end of three days of vocal testimony from his victims and their families, which has seen tears shed and angry words exchanged, along with messages of hope and healing.

Perhaps the most startling testimony came from Ahad Nabi, who lost his 71-year-old father Haj during the attack, who described Tarrant  as ‘coward’, a ‘maggot’ and ‘the trash of society’.

Clad in a New Zealand Warriors rugby league jersey, Ahad raised both his middle fingers at Tarrant and flexed his muscles, while branding the killer ‘weak’. 

Ahad Nabi is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Ahad Nabi is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Ahad Nabi's father Haj Mohemmed Daoud Nabi (pictured) was shot dead by Tarrant at Al Noor Mosque on March 15 last year

Ahad Nabi’s father Haj Mohemmed Daoud Nabi (pictured) was shot dead by Tarrant at Al Noor Mosque on March 15 last year

'I ask from you, your honour, that this scum of the world never be allowed to walk from the prison in his lifetime,' Mr Nabi said

‘I ask from you, your honour, that this scum of the world never be allowed to walk from the prison in his lifetime,’ Mr Nabi said

Mr Nabi told Tarrant that his 71-year-old father 'would have snapped you in half in a fight', then called the killer a 'coward'

Mr Nabi told Tarrant that his 71-year-old father ‘would have snapped you in half in a fight’, then called the killer a ‘coward’

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives for his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court on August 26

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives for his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court on August 26

He added: ‘Your father was a garbage man and you became trash of society. He is ashamed of your identity. You deserve to be buried in a landfill. This world was created with colour, a peasant like you will never change the human race.

‘You hurt my father but you never took him away from me. What I mean by this is that you physically hurt him but you gifted my father with becoming a martyr and he’s returned to Allah.’ 

He described Tarrant as a coward after he shot at ‘defenceless people who were not aware what was going on until it was too late’. 

‘Your actions were of a gutless character. There is nothing heroic of your actions,’ Nabi said. 

Mr Nabi said he did not forgive Tarrant before asking a special request of the judge. 

‘I ask from you, your honour, that this scum of the world never be allowed to walk from the prison in his lifetime,’ Mr Nabi said. 

‘I ask that he be put into mainstream prison to stop wasting taxpayer money giving him special treatment.

‘Coming back to this maggot … my 71-year-old dad would have broke you in half if you challenged him to a fight. 

‘But you are weak. A sheep with a wolf’s jacket on for 10 minutes of your whole life.  

‘I am strong and you made me even stronger,’ Mr Nabi concluded, flexing his arms to show his biceps and sticking up his middle fingers.      

'My name is Sara Qasem. Daughter of a hero. Daughter of a shining, glimmering man ... daughter of a martyr. Of Abdelfattah Qasem. Remember that name,' she said firmly (pictured)

‘My name is Sara Qasem. Daughter of a hero. Daughter of a shining, glimmering man … daughter of a martyr. Of Abdelfattah Qasem. Remember that name,’ she said firmly (pictured)

Nor Abd Wahib and her husband Rahimi Bin Ahmad are seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Nor Abd Wahib and her husband Rahimi Bin Ahmad are seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Manal Dokhan points a finger at Tarrant as she gives a statement during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday

Manal Dokhan points a finger at Tarrant as she gives a statement during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday

Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah looks Tarrant directly in the eyes during his victim impact statement at a court in Christchurch

Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah looks Tarrant directly in the eyes during his victim impact statement at a court in Christchurch

Hazem Mohammed is temporarily overcome with emotion while speaking at the High Court in Christchurch

Hazem Mohammed is temporarily overcome with emotion while speaking at the High Court in Christchurch

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives for his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court on August 26

Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant arrives for his sentencing hearing at Christchurch High Court on August 26

Another victim, Sara Qasem, was not originally listed on the court plans but rose to speak on behalf of her father Abdelfattah, murdered at Al Noor mosque.

‘My name is Sara Qasem. Daughter of a hero. Daughter of a shining, glimmering man … daughter of a martyr. Of Abdelfattah Qasem. Remember that name,’ she said firmly.

‘My dad never left. He could have left but he stayed behind to help his brothers. Putting others before himself.’

Ms Qasem drew tears from every corner of the courtroom as she grieved for her lost father.

‘I’d never really known what the meaning of a broken heart was until then,’ she said.

‘I want to go on more road trips with him.

‘Smell his home cooking. His cologne.’

Crying, she composed herself and eyeballed Tarrant, saying ‘these tears are not for you’.

‘To hear his deep belly laugh,’ she continued.

‘I want to hear him tell me more about the olive trees in Palestine. I want to hear his voice.’

Ms Qasem’s moving testimony came alongside those who gave more pointed addresses.  

The rich displays of emotion inside the courtroom contrast sharply with the everyday collegiality in the halls of the Christchurch courthouse between sessions.

Outside proceedings, victims, family members, support workers and police mingle and chat, showing the sense of community that they have built and often referred to in statements.

Nathan Smith raises his hand as he speaks about how the attack has impacted him during Tarrant's sentencing hearing

Nathan Smith raises his hand as he speaks about how the attack has impacted him during Tarrant’s sentencing hearing

Mustafa Boztas delivers a heartbreaking story during Tarrant's sentencing on August 26

Mustafa Boztas delivers a heartbreaking story during Tarrant’s sentencing on August 26

Che Ta Binti Mat Ludin is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Che Ta Binti Mat Ludin is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 26

Hasmine Mohamedhosen is seen reading a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing on August 26

Hasmine Mohamedhosen is seen reading a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing on August 26

Mulki Husein Abdiwahab delivers her heartbreaking speech during the hearing on August 26

Mulki Husein Abdiwahab delivers her heartbreaking speech during the hearing on August 26

Encouragingly, after giving their contributions, victims often say they are left with a sense of relief, empowerment and strength.

‘When I saw him shooting people, I was not the one in control. He was,’ Rosemary Omar, who lost her 24-year-old son Tariq Omar, told AAP.

‘It was empowering to get some of that power back that the perpetrator took from us when he killed our son.’

Rashid Omar, Rosemary’s husband and Tariq’s father, said he felt a full range of emotions while addressing Tarrant.

‘At first I was emotional reading about my sadness and loss but I gained strength. I got more angry after that,’ he said. ‘I looked right at him, that really helped.’

Mr Omar told the court he felt ‘broken inside’, lost his enjoyment of life, and eyeballed Tarrant, telling him would never be able to forgive him.

‘When I said I will never be able to forgive you, he just nodded,’ he said.

‘I felt like I was in control. He was looking and me and I was staring back at him.

‘I saw him nod, agree with me … like ‘fair enough’.’

Esam Alzhqhoul, right, gestures as he gives his victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Tarrant

Esam Alzhqhoul, right, gestures as he gives his victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Tarrant

John Milne holds a photograph of his son, Sayyad Milne, who was killed, as his daughter, Brydie Henry, looks on

John Milne holds a photograph of his son, Sayyad Milne, who was killed, as his daughter, Brydie Henry, looks on

Weedad Mohamedhosen is seen in court on August 26 describing the impact the massacre had on her

Weedad Mohamedhosen is seen in court on August 26 describing the impact the massacre had on her

Sazada Akhter is seen during victim impact statements in the sentencing of mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant

Sazada Akhter is seen during victim impact statements in the sentencing of mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant

The father of the attack’s youngest victim – three-year-old Mucaad who was shot to death at Al Noor mosque – had a statement read to the court by a family member. 

In the statement, Aden Ibrahim Diriye said: ‘You have killed my son and to me it is as if you have killed the whole of New Zealand.

‘He used to engage and play with the police; at home he would run around the house pretending to be a cop and wear police uniform. We thought one day he might become a police officer.’

‘I don’t know you, I never hurt you, your father, mother and any of your friends. Rather I am the type of person who would help you and your family with anything.’

‘Know that true justice is waiting for you in the next life and that will be far more severe. I will never forgive you for what you have done.’

Mustafa Boztas, a survivor who was wounded at Al Noor mosque, told Tarrant: ‘You are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world. 

‘You are classified as someone who is dumb enough not to realise that beyond the skin all humans are the same, and all have the same internal organs and function the same. 

‘You will be remembered, but as a scared killer and nothing more.’

Hasmine Mohamedhosen, whose brother Mohamed was killed, called Tarrant the ‘son of a devil’ who she wanted to ‘rot in hell between the four walls of your cell for eternity’. 

Wasseim Daragmih is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant

Wasseim Daragmih is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant

Sahadat Mohammed and his wife during Tarrant's sentencing on August 26 in New Zealand's High Court

Sahadat Mohammed and his wife during Tarrant’s sentencing on August 26 in New Zealand’s High Court

Mohammad Shamim Siddiqui (R) is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25

Mohammad Shamim Siddiqui (R) is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25

Kyron Gosse is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25

Kyron Gosse is seen during the sentencing hearing for Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant on August 25

John Milne, whose 14-year-old son Sayyad was murdered, said since the killings his mental health had suffered, leading to a spell in a psychiatric ward.

‘There is a huge hole in my heart that will only heal when I meet Sayyad again in heaven,’ he said.

‘I hope to see you there too, Brenton, and if you get the chance I’d love you to say sorry to Sayyad. I’m sure he’s forgiven you too.’

Showing a photo of his son to the man in the dock, Milne implored: ‘Please, just remember his name.’

The full hearings will not be seen by the public, with Justice Cameron Mander placing restrictions on what can be broadcast and some speakers choosing not to allow recordings.

It is unlikely the court has seen many contributions quite like Ms Qasem’s, who finished her statement by comparing the rebuilding of her community to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which repairs broken pottery with gold leaf.

‘Our hearts may be broken … but slowly and surely we are reassembling each crack with a lining of gold,’ she said.

‘The gold is the love, the aroha, the New Zealand community, our friends and neighbours, the flower wall, the government.

‘In the end, love wins and love will always win.’

source: dailymail.co.uk

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