Quebec mosque shooter sentenced to life, no parole for 40 years

Erika Holt
February 11, 2019

Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty to killing six men at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on January 29, 2017.

As the judge read a detailed account of the shooter's actions, several people in the Quebec City courtroom wept.

"You killed six of your compatriots whose only crime was to be different than yourself", Mr Huot said in court.

According to CBC, the now 29-year-old Bissonnette will serve an automatic life sentence for shooting and killing the men during a prayer at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on January 29, 2017.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, February 21, 2017.

Leila Nasr, spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), an advocacy group, told Middle East Eye that whatever the court's ruling would have been, it was "an incredibly hard day".

Survivors of the Quebec City mosque shooting and families of the victims began arriving before 8 a.m. Friday to fill the public seats in court for a decision that could bring a measure of finality to a community still struggling to close the wounds of the 2017 massacre.

"It's really just a day of processing what's happening and trying to find some sense of sanity in the middle of it".

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During the sentencing phase, investigators said Bissonnette's online activity showed he was fascinated by serial killers and the alt-right movement and was a fan of US President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Silver agreed that the Bissonnette sentencing is also likely to be appealed, and she believes that's a good thing.

In his decision, Judge Francois Huot rejected a prosecution request for a 150-year sentence, which would have been the longest ever in Canada, saying "subjecting a murder to a sentence that exceeds his life expectancy" would be a cruel and unusual punishment under Canadian law.

Justice Huot chose instead to allow for the possibility of parole within Bissonnette's natural life. In the case of McArthur, who killed eight men from Toronto's gay village, the Crown had sought a sentence of 50 years without parole eligibility; the judge ruled he can apply for parole after 25 years, when he is 91 years old. He referred to numerous attacks and said he "lost it" after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees.

He said the sentence did not fully reflect the severity of the crimes committed. There were another 35 people in the mosque.

Khaled Labdelli, a Montreal resident who was at the vigil, told MEE he wanted to commemorate the victims of the attack and make sure what happened is never forgotten.

"The fear will not go away", Lotayef said. "I think we always have to talk about this because people forget fast".

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