On Thursday, the Australian man who killed 51 people and injured 40 others during a terrorist attack in Christchurch last year has been sentenced to life without parole. It is the first time the full-life term has been imposed in New Zealand.
For three days, survivors of the March 15, 2019 Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks stood strong, directly addressing the man who murdered 51 members of their community.
Emboldened and confident, victims delivered heartbreaking and spine-tingling stories of grief to the New Zealand High Court as the sentencing of the terrorist took place this week.
On Monday, testimonies were hesitant and nervous. On Tuesday, the mood had changed as more victims gained confidence to speak of their rage and grief. By Wednesday, the floodgates in a usually muted courtroom had opened.
Sara Qasem delivers her victim impact statement. Post continues below video.
Court officials planned for around 66 victims - either survivors from the mosques or family members of those killed or injured - to address the court, as well as the offender, who sat just five metres away, separated by a glass panel.
The final number was over 80, as survivors say they were strengthened by previous speakers to share their stories.
Brenton Tarrant, the 29-year-old Australian who committed the murders, opted not to speak.
After three days of statements, he was sentenced on Thursday to life without parole.
"Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it would not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation," Justice Cameron Mander said when handing down his sentence.
New Zealand media reported the reaction outside the courtroom, where more than 100 people cheered as it was delievered.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was relieved by the sentence.
"I want to acknowledge the strength of our Muslim community who shared their words in court over the past few days," she said.