Accused Christchurch mosque shooter to undergo mental health tests

Australian will next appear in court in June

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 05: Members of the Muslim community walk past armed police officers at Christchurch High Court on April 05, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Accused gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant is facing 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges after opening fire at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March. 50 people were killed, and dozens were injured in what is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history. Tarrant will appear via video link from New Zealand's only maximum security prison in Paremoremo, Auckland. Justice Cameron Mander declined all media requests to film or photograph proceedings in court, in the interests of preserving the integrity of the trial process and ensuring a fair trial.  (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
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A New Zealand judge has ordered the man accused of killing 50 people at two New Zealand mosques to undergo two mental health tests to determine if he is fit to enter pleas in the case.

High Court judge Cameron Mander made the order Friday during a hearing in which Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, appeared on video link from a prison room.

Relatives of victims and survivors, some in wheelchairs and hospital gowns, were in court to watch the proceedings.

The accused also faces 39 attempted murder charges in relation to the March 15 attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

Mr Mander said the mental heath test order was a normal step in such a case.

The courtroom was filled with more than two dozen reporters and 60 members of the public. Some became emotional and wept.

Mr Tarrant was wearing handcuffs and a grey jumper. He showed little emotion during the hearing and will next appear in court on June 14.

New Zealand's Corrections Department revealed last month that the defendant was separated from other prisoners and could be observed constantly, either directly by staff or through CCTV cameras.

It said he had no access to television, radio or newspapers and no visitors.