WELLINGTON, New Zealand (TNS) — The Australian man accused of killing 51 people and wounding dozens of others in two Christchurch mosques in March pleaded not guilty on Friday when he appeared in the city’s High Court.
The 28-year-old last month was charged with terrorism in addition to the 51 murder and 40 attempted murder charges he was already facing for the March 15 attacks. It will be the first time New Zealand’s terrorism law will be used in court.
The alleged white supremacist pleaded not guilty to all 92 charges through his lawyers when he appeared by video link from a prison in Auckland, more than 600 miles north of Christchurch, where he is being held in isolation in a high-security wing.
Local media reported the accused smiled when his lawyer entered the pleas, which were met with gasps from the victims and their families.
Justice Cameron Mander said the trail was set to start May 4.
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamaluddin Abdel-Ghany was killed in the Al Noor mosque, told local website Stuff that his family had hoped to not have to wait for justice but they understood the process.
“I guess we were hoping to not wait another year to get it over and done with, but at the same time there is a court process that needs to be done so we just have to be patient,” he said.