Christchurch mosque attack victims call gunman a 'coward' in emotional statements

Warning: This article contains details that may disturb some people.

Victims and families of the March 2019 mosque attacks expressed their thoughts on the gunman at Christchurch High Court on Monday.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant was described as a "mouse" and "coward" as hundreds of members of the Muslim community turned out for his sentencing.

Many victims and family members faced Tarrant for the very first time.

Survivor Abdul Aziz told Newshub he is glad the day of sentencing had finally arrived.

"We just want to close this chapter because we waited a long time for this day, and we can move on with our lives."

Aziz said he expected a lot of hate would be in the courtroom.

"[Tarrant's] nothing," Ahad Nabi, the son of a victim, said outside court. "Looking at a mouse doesn't fear me."

During the court session on Monday, 25 victims read statements, some pre-recorded, some staring the terrorist right in the eye.

In the attack on March 15, 2019, 51 people were murdered and 40 injured.

"You thought you can break us, you failed miserably, we became more determined to hold tight to Islam," Mayson Salama said.

Mohammad Atta Ahmad Alayan sung the first chapter of the Quran to the court.

Khaled Alnobani told Tarrant the attack had left him depressed, frustrated and had taken away his happiness.

He spoke in Arabic for his statement, except for his last sentence in English when addressing Ta


"We are not broken, we have become more united, you make that and thank you for that."

All victims spoke of their physical and emotional scars from New Zealand's worst terrorist attack.

Taj Mohammad Kamran lost five siblings when he was a child in a bombing in Afghanistan.

He moved to New Zealand, lost his house in the Christchurch earthquake and then was shot three times in the attack.

Police read his statement in court.

"I still have maybe a thousand bits of shrapnel throughout my body that will always be there, it cannot be removed," it said.

Temel Atacocugu stared directly at the gunman reading his statement. He was shot nine times on March 15.

"I will think about how proud I am of all I have overcome as I walk freely in the sunshine. Kia Kaha."

As the court adjourned at lunch, victims reacted to seeing the defendant in court.

"He looked very miserable... and that's pretty much a relief for us," said victim Wasseim Sati.

One of the most poignant moments was when Janaa Ezat, who lost her son Hussein, looked at Tarrant and expressed forgiveness.

"I forgive you... damage was done and Hussein will never be here, so I have only one choice, to forgive you."

During her statement, the defendant showed emotion for the first time.

He reacted by nodding and looking down, he welled and covered the lower part of his face with his hand.

Tarrant appeared shaken as she said she forgave him and was seen dabbing at an eye.

Day one over for the community crushed in grief but wrapped around by police and the wider New Zealand community.