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New Zealand judge rejects mosque shooter's 'self-absorbed' change of heart

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant said in a pre-sentencing report that he did not want psychological help, and that if necessary, he would analyse his own behaviour that prompted him to go on a killing spree.

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The 29-year-old Australian, sentenced by a New Zealand court to life in prison with no parole on Thursday, opted not to make a statement in court, after recently sacking his legal team and deciding to represent himself at the hearings.

“He said that he does not want help. He asserted that professionals do not have the training or expertise to deal with his issues,” said state prosecutor Mark Zarifeh, relaying details of the report.

“He said if necessary, he could psychologically analyse himself.”

Zarifeh said while Tarrant had told a psychiatrist at an assessment that he felt remorse, the psychiatrist found that the “true depth of this was difficult to gauge”.

Tarrant received the most severe penalty in New Zealand for his March 15, 2019, attacks, when he killed 51 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Earlier in the year, he switched his plea to guilty. He did not speak during the four-day sentencing hearing, surprising those who expected him to try to use the court as a platform to spread his white supremacist ideology.

He now denies being racist or xenophobic, according to what he told the writer of the pre-sentence report, Zarifeh said.

When deciding on the sentence, High Court Judge Cameron Mander said he considered Tarrant’s guilty plea, which saved the court and survivors and families of victims from a trial.

However, Mander said he did not accept Tarrant had abandoned his ideological platform.

“To my observation, however, you remain entirely self- absorbed. You’ve offered no apology or public acknowledgement of the harm you have caused.”

“Your focus appears to be on yourself and the position you find yourself in.”

Mander said the enormity of the premeditated crimes meant other factors that may normally influence sentencing, such as Tarrant not previously having a criminal record, could not mitigate the sentence.

“I do not consider, however long the length of your incarceration during your lifetime, that it could, even in a modest way, atone for what you have done.”

(This story has been refiled to correct to ‘sentenced’ in paragraph 2)

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett and Praveen Menon; Editing by Robert Birsel

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