Judge Orders Mental Health Tests for Accused Mosque Shooter

Australian Brenton Tarrant was previously charged with only one murder following the attack and has been remanded without a plea

He was not required to submit a plea to the charges.

Tarrant's second court appearance comes three weeks after the attack, as the New Zealand government rushed to make changes to gun laws and investigate how he was able to carry out the attacks.

In breaking news, New Zealand Police have announced that further charges have been laid regarding the Christchurch terror attacks last month.

Earlier police said Tarrant will face a total of 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in court on Friday.

Tarrant was then remanded to custody until June 14.

Shane Tait, a member of Tarrant's legal team, said he was concerned the publication of the news that Tarrant's mental health was being assessed could prejudice the trial.

Judge Cameron Mander said in a note that the brief hearing will mainly be about the accused gunman's legal representation.

Tofazzal Alam, 25, said he was worshipping at the Linwood mosque when the gunman attacked.

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Mander said nothing should be read into his order for the mental health assessments, as it was a normal step in such a case.

While the public gallery could see Tarrant on screen, the position of the camera in court ensured his view from prison was restricted to the judge and lawyers. He has not applied for bail or name suppression, and his duty lawyer described him as "aware, lucid" in the hours following the massacre, and presenting as an "everyday sort of person".

Brenton Tarrant at his first court hearing on 16 March in the Christchurch District Court.

The names of the 39 people who it is alleged Tarrant attempted to murder have been suppressed on an interim basis, the court said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the mosque slaughter a well-planned "terrorist attack", and ordered major reforms of the country's gun laws including an effective ban on assault weapons and semi-automatic rifles.

No-one could stop the suspect from responding directly to the charges he faces, "but if someone wanted to talk about irrelevant matters, the court could say "we're not going to hear this, move on", Peters said.

On March 15, Tarrant stormed two mosques during Friday congregational prayers and indiscriminately opened fire on the assembled, as per the police.

"Everybody has their own problems and they have their own ideas about religions, and that's fine, and we should all have that, we're all different", said one nun, Sister Dorothea.

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