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New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with 50 counts of murder


The suspect in the mass shooting that killed 50 worshippers at two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques was charged with 50 counts of murder Thursday, The Associated Press reports.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who was initially charged with one count of murder after his arrest, will also face 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in court on Friday, according to the AP.  He will not be required to enter a plea, the news service noted.

The Friday hearing will reportedly focus on Tarrant’s legal representation and his request to represent himself. New Zealand law places tight restrictions on public information about upcoming court cases to avoid biasing any potential jurors, according to the AP.

New Zealand has rolled out a series of legislative initiatives in the wake of the shooting, including a bill banning the types of guns used in the attack, which would take effect April 12.

"This will mean that within four weeks of the Christchurch terrorist attack, New Zealand will have passed legislation banning all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles," Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said Tuesday.

Australia, meanwhile, has proposed a new law that would penalize social media platforms and their executives for failure to remove violent content, sentencing violators to up to three years in prison and fining corporations 10 percent of their annual turnover. Facebook has claimed no one reported the gunman’s livestream of the shooting while it was occurring.

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