Judge orders psych test for Christchurch shooting suspect

Brenton Tarrant has been charged in relation to the Christchurch mosque massacre. Source AAPMore

Brenton Tarrant has been charged in relation to the Christchurch mosque massacre. Source AAPMore

The man accused of shooting dead 50 Muslim worshippers in a Christchurch mosque sat impassively Friday as a New Zealand judge ordered him to undergo tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial for murder.

They said other charges are still under consideration.

Tarrant was charged with one murder the day after the attack and was remanded without a plea.

Thousands of visitors to the reopened Al Noor mosque, where 42 people were killed, have offered condolences and sought to learn more about Islam, said Israfil Hossain, who recites the daily call to prayer there. The gunman was armed with semi-automatic weapons and broadcast his attack live on Facebook.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the massacre, the worst mass shooting by a person in New Zealand, as a "terrorist attack" and some legal experts thought it could result in charges under New Zealand's terrorism laws.

Tarrant's second court appearance comes three weeks after the attack, as the New Zealand government rushed to make changes to gun laws and investigate how he was able to carry out the attacks.

"It is an entirely ordinary step taken in the process and I don't think anything should be read into it", Mander said. "I feel sorry. Sorry for myself".

The suspect, Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, appeared via video link from Auckland's Paremoremo Prison, New Zealand's only maximum-security prison.

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Nabi had attempted to attend the accused's first court appearance but was prevented from entering the courtroom.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, will face those charges for the first time Friday when he is due back in court.

The Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed that it briefed German lawmakers on Wednesday on its investigation into ties the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker had to Germany. The judge also suppressed the names of people he was alleged to have attempted to murder.

However, New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act, introduced after the 9/11 attacks, is little used and could complicate the prosecution.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo, who is responsible for most of the country's security and intelligence edifice, said the accused gunman had spent just 45 days in Australia during the past few years. Peters said Tarrant told him that he wants to represent himself.

Shane Tait, a member of Tarrant's legal team, said he was concerned the publication of the news that Tarrant's mental health was being assessed could prejudice the trial.

Prison officials say Tarrant is under 24-hour surveillance with no access to media, according to news reports.

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