New Zealand mass shooting suspect to undergo mental health tests
The man accused of gunning down 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month was ordered Friday to undergo two psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial.
The 28-year-old Australian suspect appeared at a hearing via video link from a maximum security prison in Auckland when High Court Judge Cameron Mander issued the order.
20,000 ATTEND NEW ZEALAND VIGIL TO REMEMBER CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUE VICTIMS, SURVIVOR SAYS HE FORGIVES GUNMAN
Mander said the mental health assessments were a standard procedure in a case such as this, warning against premature conclusions. Lawyers said it could take two or three months to complete the assessment.
The judge said the suspect, whom Fox News is not naming, was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder. Police initially filed a single, representative murder charge before filing the additional charges this week.
The alleged gunman was unshaven, wearing a gray sweatshirt with his hands cuffed in front of him when he appeared on a large screen in the courtroom, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Packing the courtroom were around 50 family members and victims of the attack. Those still recovering from gunshot wounds were wearing hospital gowns and sitting in wheelchairs.
The suspect was able to see only the judge and lawyers, not those in the public gallery, the judge explained.
The accused was due to reappear in court June 14. The mental health findings would determine whether he is required to enter a plea then.
Tofazzal Alam, 25, said he was worshipping at the Linwood mosque when the gunman attacked on March 15. He felt it was important to attend the hearing because so many of his friends were killed even though it upset him to see the alleged mass murderer.
"It seems he don't care what has been done. He has no emotion. He looks all right," Alam said. "I feel sorry. Sorry for myself. Sorry for my friends who have been killed. And for him."
"It seems he don't care what has been done. He has no emotion. He looks all right. I feel sorry. Sorry for myself. Sorry for my friends who have been killed. And for him."
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Farid Ahmed, who lost his wife in the attack, previously told the Herald that he has already forgiven the suspect.
"I have forgiven him and I am sure if my wife was alive she would have done the same thing," he previously told the Herald. "I hold no grudge."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.