Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Quebec mosque shooter gets life sentence for 2017 attack

Quebec City mosque shooter sentenced to life with no parole for 40 years Quebec Mosque Shooter Alexandre Bissonnette's Sentencing Underway
Melinda Barton | 10 February, 2019, 23:33

A terrorist who opened fire in Quebec City mosque has been sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 40 years.

Last March, Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in the attack.

But he rejected the Crown's request for six consecutive life sentences, which would have prevented Bissonnette from seeking parole for 150 years and guaranteed that he end his life behind bars.

The killer's "highly premeditated" attack would be "written in blood" in Canadian history as one of the country's worst tragedies, Huot said in court.

While underscoring the brutality of the attack, Justice Huot suggested that such a harsh sentence would be excessive by denying the defendant the hope of ever leaving prison.

In a Quebec City courtroom on Friday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot described Alexandre Bissonnette's crime as "gratuitous, covert and murderous", La Presse Canadienne news agency reported.

"We need to remember that sentencing is individual, it takes in a number of factors, and those include the circumstances of the crime, the severity, the impact on the community, but it also has to reference the circumstances and background of the offender", she said.

Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39, were all shot in the place of worship.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, will have to serve 40 years - longer than usual - before he can apply for parole.

"Time goes by quickly", he said.

While serial killer Bruce McArthur was handed 25 years of parole ineligibility in a Toronto courtroom this morning, the longest prison sentence in Canadian history could be handed out to another mass murderer.

This was a Reuters error as the judge was still reading his judgment.

"He really backed himself up, to use the expression", he said.

Several of the survivors and the victims' families had argued for a sentenced that required more than 25 years before parole eligibility, noting the heinous nature of the crime and the lasting trauma it caused for the Muslim community. Bissonnette's parents were also present.

In addition to the men killed, five others were struck by bullets.

But Bissonnette's lawyer, Charles-Olivier Gosselin, portrayed his client as an anxious and fragile man who deeply regrets his actions and is not beyond rehabilitation.