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New Zealand mosque shooter sentenced to life without parole

A court in New Zealand has sentenced a self-confessed white supremacist who killed 51 Muslims as they prayed at two mosques in Christchurch to life imprisonment without parole, the first time such a sentence has been handed down in the country.

The gunman who killed 51 Muslim worshippers last year in New Zealand’s deadliest shooting attack was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court on Thursday. He is the first person in the country to get a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Judge Cameron Mander of the Christchurch High Court said that a finite term would not be sufficient.

“Your crimes … are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation,” said Mander as he handed down a sentence unprecedented in New Zealand legal history.

“Your actions were inhuman,” the judge said. “You deliberately killed a 3-year-old infant as he clung to the leg of his father…As far as I can discern, you are empty of any empathy for your victims.”

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said the attack was “without comparison in New Zealand’s criminal history”.

“The offending was motivated by an entrenched racist and xenophobic ideology… in my submission, the offender is clearly New Zealand’s worst murderer,” he said.

Zarifeh said life behind bars was “the only proper sentencing option” for the shooter.

The shooter had sacked his legal team last month intending to represent himself.

He waived his right to speak at the sentencing. Instead, he made a brief statement through a court-appointed lawyer before the sentencing, saying the shooter “does not oppose the application that he should be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.”

The families of the victims had called for the harshest possible punishment for the gunman. New Zealand does not have the death penalty, but some angry survivors called for just that.

Life imprisonment is the most severe punishment in the country. While the Sentencing Act requires a minimum of 10-17 years in prison before the possibility of parole, a judge can sentence a convict to life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

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