October 2, 2019 / 10:51 PM / a month ago

Accused New Zealand mosque gunman withdraws bid to move trial: media

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The man accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in March has withdrawn an application to have his trial moved away from Christchurch, the city where the attacks occurred, New Zealand media said on Thursday.

The decision was announced at the High Court in Christchurch on Thursday, where the accused man, Australian Brenton Tarrant, appeared via a video link from a high-security prison in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

Defense lawyer Shane Tait withdrew the application to move the trial venue at what turned out to be a short hearing, website Stuff.co.nz said.

Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, pleaded not guilty in June to 92 charges against him, including murder and terrorism.

A lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on March 15 in New Zealand’s worst peace-time mass shooting. The attacker broadcast the shooting live on Facebook.

Tarrant is due to stand trial in June 2020. The trial had been scheduled to begin in May but was postponed to avoid coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Paul Tait

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