A RIGHT-WING extremist flashed a white power gesture as he faced the first of many murder charges in a New Zealand court on Saturday, while a shellshocked community dug graves for 49 mosque-goers he stands accused of slaying. Australia-born, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant stood largely impassive in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read the first of what are expected to be a host of murder charges that could mean he dies in jail. Flanked by armed police, the former personal fitness trainer gestured an upside-down “okay”, a symbol used by white power groups worldwide. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which was scheduled for April 5. Outside the courtroom, Christchurch residents struggled to deal with the aftermath ofwhat is thought to be the worst act of terror against Muslims in the West. At an old gravesite, excavators were called in to remove the vast amount of earth needed to bury the dead, although police have not yet been able to release the bodies to anxious families.
At the nearby hospital, the doctors worked round the clock to treat 39 people for gunshot wounds and other injuries sustained in the attacks. The wounded also included a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, who was in a very critical condition.