A New Zealand court has heard more harrowing stories of survival and loss from the Christchurch terror attacks.
It’s the second day of a hearing to sentence mass murderer Brenton Tarrant.
The 29-year-old Australian admits shooting men, women and children while they prayed at two city mosques last year, killing 51 people.
Tarrant has also pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a further 40 worshippers, and a charge of terrorism. He’s representing himself in court, flanked by heavy security.
Mohammad Siddiqui was shot in the arm at Al Noor mosque, leaving him injured in hospital for eight days. He told the court he was only there a few minutes before “the devil arrived”.
“You arrived at the house of God to kill innocent people and carry out your gutless action.
“I try not to talk about it because I do not want to give you the satisfaction. We have grieved, we have cried, yet we are stronger.
“Your time will come, everyone must face God,” he told Tarrant.
Ambreen Naeem, lost her husband Naeem Rashid and her eldest son Talha Neem who was just 21 years old.
In her statement, read by a support person, she described the killing as “inhumane” saying Tarrant’s “punishment should continue forever”. But she added there was a silver lining for the horrific attack as “Naeem died trying to save others and was given the highest award for bravery from Pakistan. This is an honour for our family”.
Angela Armstrong talked of the two bullets that claimed the life of her mother, Linda Armstrong while she was at the Linwood mosque.
“You robbed me of my mother and I have pity for your mum, but no emotion for you. You are a nothing.”
Linda Armstrong’s nephew Kyron Gosse, pleaded with the judge to protect the public from Tarrant. “I want you to know my rage. This man is not one of us, but that did not stop him from slaughtering us. He killed our love ones in cold blood.
“And for what? This coward hid behind his big guns and shot Linda from afar. She never stood a chance. I’ve seen no remorse.”
Noraini Milne, whose son Sayyad Milne was killed, told Tarrant: “You are already dead to me. Whatever punishment you get will never be enough.”
Mirwais Waziri, from Afghanistan went off script, deciding instead of reading his victim impact statement, to address Tarrant himself.
“You are a terrorist and you have proved that to the world. We have suffered but we are strong, we are stronger than before. I came here as a refugee and I’m not going anywhere. You are the loser – we are the winners. How will you face God on judgement day?”
Zuhair Darwish whose brother Kamel Darwish was killed, again talked directly to the gunman. “You will pay for what you did in this life, soon and later. You acted like a coward and you are one. You live like a rat and you are going to die alone.”
He told the court the only punishment fit for Brenton Tarrant’s crimes was death. “Fair punishment for him will be death penalty, I know in New Zealand they have removed it for a human, but he’s not a human.”
Tarrant was again called a monster. Farisha Razak who lost her father in the attack told the murderer: “You are a monster and no one wants you. You deserve to suffer for ruining the lives of so many. Muslims are not bad people – Get it in your thick head.”
Nathan Smith, who was at the Al Noor mosque looked at Tarrant when he spoke. “I held a three-year-old boy in my arms praying he was still alive, but he was not. You killed in my name. I am white, Muslim and proud. All you have done is cause great shame for Europeans around the world.”
Tarrant laughed when Nathan Smith suggested: “If you have a few spare minutes – and you will have many – you may want to read the Koran, it’s beautiful.”
He added “You have changed my life forever and I will never forgive you. Because of you my faith is stronger and I want to learn more. I have nothing else to say to you but you will be judged, you will be judged.”
Brenton Tarrant has sat still and silently in court today. He watches, listens and nodded in agreement when one victim told the court “life in prison should mean life”.
Yesterday, the court heard how Tarrant talked to police after the attacks, telling them he was “going into both mosques to kill as many people as he could”. He also planned to burn the mosques to the ground and said he “wished he had done so”.
Brenton Tarrant also planned to take more lives, attempting to head to a third mosque in Ashburton. But he was stopped moments later by police who rammed his car and arrested him, without resistance.
Tarrant’s crimes carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, but the high court judge, Justice Cameron Mander, has the option of sentencing him to life in prison without parole, a penalty never before used in New Zealand.