Canadian gets life sentence for killing six in Quebec mosque shooting

Cheryl Sanders
February 10, 2019

A terrorist who opened fire in Quebec City mosque has been sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 40 years. The defence argued the sentences should be served concurrently, which would have made him eligible for parole after 25 years.

Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques had urged the judge to sentence Bissonnette to 150 years - the maximum 25 years for each of the six victims - before he was eligible for parole.

But he also noted the killer's "visceral hatred of Muslim immigrants".

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.

"With your hatred and racism, you've ruined their lives, yours and your parents', and the crime you've done deserves the greatest denunciation", he said.

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.

The judge read out segments of his 246-page decision as a packed courtroom sat for six hours.

A university student at the time of the shooting, Bissonnette was seduced by nationalist and supremacist ideologies into committing this "unjustified and deadly" massacre, Huot said.

"(The decision) does seem unusual, but it's also very consistent with what some judges are saying, not just about this section, but about sentencing and the larger discussion about these sections in the Criminal Code", she said.

But she said people should understand that a sentence isn't about putting a numerical value on a person's life.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last March to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot called Alexandre Bissonnette's attack gratuitous and insidious as he handed down the sentence today.

On January 29, 2017, Bissonnette burst into the Quebec City mosque and unleashed a hail of bullets on the 40 men and four children who were chatting among themselves after evening prayers.

Six men were killed and five injured.

The victims were all dual nationals who emigrated to Canada over recent decades: two Algerians, two Guineans, a Moroccan and a Tunisian.

"He really backed himself up, to use the expression", he said. More than 50 people were at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in January 2017 when he began shooting during evening prayers.

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