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Suspect fires lawyer, wants to represent himself

The man accused of a shooting rampage that left 50 people dead at two New Zealand mosques has fired his lawyer and wants to represent himself at trial, the court-appointed lawyer said.

Richard Peters was assigned to represent Brenton Tarrant at Tarrant’s brief court hearing Saturday. Tarrant fired Peters and may want to use the trial to give more publicity to his views, Peters told the New Zealand Herald.

Peters said the trial judge must decide how much racist rhetoric will be allowed. Tarrant released a manifesto minutes before Friday’s attack.

Peters said Tarrant expressed no condolences or regret.

“What did seem apparent to me is he seemed quite clear and lucid, whereas this may seem like very irrational behavior,” Peters told the Herald. “He didn’t appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views.”

Tarrant, an Australian, has been charged with one count of murder, but more charges are likely. He has not sought bail and faces a hearing April 5.

The death toll stood at 50 with dozens more wounded in Tarrant’s assault on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques during Friday prayers in the city of Christchurch.

Tarrant, 28, livestreamed the rampage via helmet cam on Facebook and Twitter. The video shows the gunman saying “Let’s get this party started” before walking in the front door of the Al Noor mosque and opening fire. After three minutes, he returns to his vehicle for more ammunition and goes back into the mosque and continues shooting. 

More than 40 people died at the Al Noor site. Tarrant then sped off, bound for the the Linwood location where the carnage continued. The video does not include the Linwood attack. 

Facebook said Sunday that it removed or blocked from the social media site 1.5 million videos of a gunman’s rampage. Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites also scrambled to take down video of the carnage.

A Christchurch gun shop said Monday it sold the guns to Tarrant online. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to begin discussions Monday with her Cabinet aimed at strengthening her nation’s gun laws.

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