Christchurch terror accused faces 89 charges

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New South Wales native Tarrant stands accused of shooting nearly 100 worshippers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in central Christchurch on March 15.

A second mosque in the suburb of Linwood was evacuated and Police Commissioner Mike Bush said "multiple fatalities" were recorded at two locations.

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

Around 50 family members of the mosque attack victims filed into the courtroom to watch the proceedings.

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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.

The suspect appeared in the High Court at Christchurch this morning via audio-visual link from Auckland.

During the less-than-half-hour court hearing on Friday, Justice Cameron Mander ordered the accused to undergo two assessments to determine whether he may be mentally impaired, legally insane and unfit to stand trial.

"(I) just want to see what he has to say, what sort of feeling he's got, (his) emotion, to see what his reaction is, good or bad", Yama Nabi, whose 71-year-old father was killed, told Radio New Zealand outside the court.

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The judge explained that from his end, Tarrant could see the judge and lawyers but not those in the public gallery.

Tarrant has turned down his legal counsel and said he wanted to defend himself against the charges.

Alam said he felt upset seeing Tarrant.

The government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech and called for social media giants to do more to combat online extremism.

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"It seems he don't care what has been done". The gunman was armed with semi-automatic weapons and broadcast his attack live on Facebook. "He looks all right", Alam said.

The media were permitted to take photographs during Tarrant's first court hearing on March 16, but images of him were distorted before they were published or distributed to foreign news companies, Stuff reported.

Following the attack, New Zealanders came together to offer support and solidarity to the victims and the wider Muslim community. "I feel sorry. Sorry for myself".

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