One year on, ‘Christchurch could happen again,’ warns human rights adviser Shaymaa Arif.
The father of slain three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim in the 2019 New Zealand mosque shootings, told the white supremacist who gunned down his son that “true justice” awaited him in the next life, as statements from survivors and family members wrapped up one day ahead of sentencing.
“You have killed my son and to me, it is as if you have killed the whole of New Zealand,” Aden Ibrahim Diriye said on Wednesday in a statement read by a family member addressed to the gunman, Brenton Tarrant.
“Know that true justice is waiting for you in the next life and that will be far more severe. I will never forgive you for what you have done.”
Tarrant, a 29-year-old Australian, will be sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders, and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the 2019 shooting rampage in the city of Christchurch, which he livestreamed on Facebook.
A murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge can impose a life term without parole, a sentence that has never been used in New Zealand.
Court officials said Tarrant will not speak in court before his sentencing. He has directed a standby counsel appointed by the court to make a brief statement.
Most severe sentence
Survivors and victims’ families have addressed the court this week and many urged the judge to sentence Tarrant to the most severe punishment.
Diriye, who came to New Zealand 25 years ago as a refugee from Somalia, told the court his son had been robbed of a future.
“He used to engage and play with the police; at home, he would run around the house pretending to be a cop and wear police uniform. We thought one day he might become a police officer,” he said.
While most of Tarrant’s victims were at Al Noor mosque, including Mucaad Ibrahim, he also killed seven people at the Linwood mosque.
The death toll would likely have been higher if it weren’t for Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah, who was commended for his courage on Wednesday by High Court Judge Cameron Mander after confronting Tarrant at the Linwood mosque.
After shots rang out in the mosque, Wahabzadah engaged Tarrant outside, throwing a bank-card reader at him and drawing fire when the gunman returned to his car, loaded with high-powered weapons, ammunition, and incendiary devices.
“I didn’t want him to go inside the mosque because we had 80-100 people praying at that time,” Wahabzadah said.
He took cover and weaved through parked cars to prevent Tarrant from getting a clear shot. Tarrant’s plan frustrated, he left quickly in his car and was detained en route to a third mosque.
Ahad Nabi, who lost his 71-year-old father in the attack, stared at Tarrant before delivering a passionate statement demanding that Tarrant should “never walk free for his cowardly actions”.
“You are weak – a sheep with a wolf’s jacket on for only 10 minutes of your whole life,” said Nabi, referring to the shooting rampage.