Shock, surprise and bitter relief among victims after Christchurch mosque killer confesses

A widow of a man killed in the Christchurch terrorist attack just over a year ago said she felt like vomiting seeing her husband's killer on the news yesterday after he'd plead guilty to the charges.

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Siham Alsalfiti, who lost her husband Abdelfattah Qasem, and Temel Atacocugu, who was shot nine times, talk about hearing the news. Source: Breakfast

Brenton Tarrant appeared in Auckland's High Court yesterday via audio-visual link, pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of committing a terrorist act.

Due to the nationwide coronavirus shutdown, the victims were locked down in their homes as the gunman pleaded guilty.

But Siham Alsalfiti, who lost her husband Abdelfattah Qasem in the March 15, 2019 attack, got a phone call with the news while at work.

"Honestly the call gave me a shock," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"However, I also later on started to feel that there's a bitter relief, there's a relief from what had happened.

"It's very difficult, very difficult to see his face even on the news. I really felt I wanted to vomit, my daughter - same thing, she couldn't look at him. He is horrible, he's horrible and what he committed he committed in cold blood so his cowardly, evil act will actually be taken seriously and he will get what he deserves."

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Ms Alsalfiti said she had been under stress and anxiety about the upcoming trial [that now won't go ahead] and what might happen though.

"So the fact that he actually pleaded guilty saved us additional emotional stress to go through the trial and not knowing what might go there, what might go wrong," she said.

Survivor Temel Atacocugu shocked and surprised

Temel Atacocugu, who was shot nine times, was also on Breakfast. He was contacted by phone too yesterday and said "shock and surprise" were his initial thoughts, but that it was good news.

"I understand he has accepted he's guilty which he attacked and murdering the people so he can't run away, so he accepted. It's good. Win win."

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Christchurch lost 51 lives as a result of the March 15 shootings. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Atacocugu called skipping the trial a "short cut" and could mean less therapy for victims, but they are still able to read victims impact statements if they wish.

"If we need to read our statements we will read it and I will look at his eyes and then he will see that we are not losing, we are winning, so we are the winner."

Ms Alsalfiti said she too started writing her statement a long time ago in a diary-form. Her statement was almost finished, she just has to add her feelings from yesterday's announcement.

"That emotional stress we went through, the change in life, the fact that we really miss Abdelfattah, I still miss him," she said.

"No one can bring back our loved ones, but however there is a relief from the emotional and mental stress."

Sentencing for the 92 charges will take place at a date yet to be set. Tarrant was remanded in custody until May 1.