The gunman who carried out the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks, killing 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand's deadliest shooting, has been sentenced to life without parole. It is the first time a whole life term has been handed down in the country.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of manslaughter and one charge of terrorism. His sentencing comes after three days of hearings and dozens of victim accounts in Christchurch’s High Court.
Prior to the sentences being handed down, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on New Zealanders to “continue to show all of the empathy and solace that our Muslim community deserve”—saying that nothing would “remove what happened that day.”
Victims of the shooting, along with relatives of victims and supporters, gathered outside the court on Thursday, hugging, singing and exchanging flowers.
Tarrant initially pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, before later admitted to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the shooting rampage, part of which he livestreamed on Facebook.
A murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and the judge can impose a life term without parole—but such a sentence has never before been delivered in New Zealand.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.