Bissonnette judge's 'unusual' sentencing decision likely to be appealed

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 10, 2019

A Quebec Superior Court justice sentenced Bissonnette to life in prison without any possibility of parole for 40 years for killing six men in a Quebec City mosque.

The convict identified as Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty to six counts of first degree murder and six counts of attempted murder for the attack, but he will however be eligible for parole after 40 years.

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. The judge said the day of the murders "will forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country".

Under Canadian law, Bissonnette could have gone to prison for 150 years or 25 years for each of the six deaths.

But Huot said Bissonnette had previously considered attacking other targets including feminists, shopping centres and airports.

Justice Francois Huot discarded the prosecution's proposal, however, calling it "unreasonable" and that allowing a prisoner to die in jail would be "cruel and unusual punishment" and contrary to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The six men killed were Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Aboubaker Thabti and Azzeddine Soufiane.

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However, that minimum sentence of life in prison with no parole for 25 years is exactly what the defence is calling for.

"This was a very serious attack in a place of worship", he said.

"Time goes by quickly", he said.

At the start of his trial in 2017, he said he had been suicidal, "swept away by fear and by awful despair", and deeply regretted his "unforgivable" actions.

Alexandre Bissonnette is escorted to a van in Quebec City after appearing in court for the deadly shooting at a mosque. Bissonnette's parents were also present. He noted that Bissonnette's mental health problems contributed to his actions and judged the danger of him reoffending as "moderate" at most.

"No matter the outcome of today's decision, nothing can diminish the incredible support & solidarity felt by many Canadian Muslims in the wake of the attack, and during the past 2 years", the group said on Twitter.

A decision on sentencing was originally expected in October, but Huot pushed that back, saying he needed more information on some legal questions, including the constitutionality of consecutive life sentences. Several of the survivors and the victims' families have argued for a sentence longer than 25 years, noting the heinous nature of the crime and the lasting trauma it caused for the Muslim community.

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