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28 March, 2020 00:00 00 AM
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CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES MASSACRE

Tigers demand heavy punishment for New Zealand shooter

SPORTS REPORTER, Dhaka
Tigers demand heavy punishment 
for New Zealand shooter

National team cricketers have demanded exemplary punishment for Australia-born Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 Muslim worshipers during a shooting spree at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last year.

In March last year, most players of the Bangladesh cricket team went to offer their Jummah prayers at Noor Al Mosque—one of the two sites of the mass shooting that killed 49 Muslim worshipers on spot, while two were declared dead at the hospital.

But the players narrowly escaped the deadly terror attack, though they witnessed the shooting incident. Keeping the tour unfinished, the team left New Zealand with the horrible and nightmarish experience that still haunted the players.

The matter resurfaced when the mosque-shooter unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty at Christchurch high court via a video link from the Auckland prison while the charges were read out to him. The self-avowed white supremacist had previously denied 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder, and one of terrorism. But he flipped his plea in a hurriedly arranged court hearing.

Neither the former gym instructor from the Australian country town of Grafton nor his lawyers offered any explanation for the change which makes him New Zealand’s first-ever convicted terrorist. The South Pacific nation does not have the death penalty, but Tarrant faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.

The terror and murder charges all carry life sentences, setting a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

In an abrupt reaction, Mominul Haque, who had toured New Zealand with the team as a top-order batsman, said he should be taken to task for the heinous deed. “Definitely, the New Zealand government will decide his fate. But personally speaking, I feel that he should be given the highest punishment,” he added.

“I can’t say whether he would be punished or not. But he should be given heavy punishment as he has taken away so many lives. A lot of families have lost their loved ones in the massacre,” Haque told reporters.

Khaled Mashud Pilot, the team manager in that tour of New Zealand, watched from the team bus, along with other players and staff, blood-soaked victims coming out of the mosque. He said he will never forget the scene.

“The killer should be punished severely. It will set an example before the world if the shooter is punished heavily for cooly killing so many people,” he added.

Mehidy Hasan Meraj, Mohammad Mithun, and Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury also echoed the same sentiment, saying that the shooter should be given the highest punishment for killing so many people.

The mass shooting on two mosques sent shockwaves all over the world. In reaction to the incident, New Zealand changed its gun law, making it tougher.

As of now, New Zealand is in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and the plea was made at a scaled-down court hearing in Christchurch high court, where no public was allowed. Only a representative of the two mosques that were attacked was allowed to attend the hearing to represent the victims and their families.

“It’s regrettable that the COVID-19 restrictions don’t permit victims and their families to be present in the courtroom when the defendant entered his guilty plea,” Judge Justice Cameron Mander said.

Sentencing on the 92 charges will take place at a date yet to be set. Tarrant was remanded in custody until May 1 when the court hopes to be able to set a sentencing date.

“There is no intention to sentence the defendant before the court returns to its normal operations. The sentence will be announced at a time when the victims and their families can attend the court in person,” Mander added.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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