Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Canada mosque killer Bissonnette sentenced to 40 years

Canada mosque killer Bissonnette sentenced to 40 years

A Canadian man who shot and killed six members of a Quebec city mosque in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison by a local court.

Canadian police officers respond to a shooting in a mosque at the Québec City Islamic cultural center on Sainte-Foy Street in Quebec city 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".

Huot concluded that consecutive sentences were "unreasonable" and that sending a criminal to die in prison would go against Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to the report.

"I hope that justice will be served and the sentence will reflect the crime that was committed", said Huot, La Presse Canadienne reported.

Huot said a sentence of 50 years or more would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole before 25 years.

The Criminal Code was amended in 2011 to allow a judge to impose consecutive sentences in cases of multiple murder, but it was clear as Huot spent almost six hours reading the decision that he was wrestling with the constitutionality of the provision.

Six worshippers were killed: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

Crown prosecutors Thomas Jacques (L) and Francois Godin (R) walk before talking to the press in the Quebec City Courthouse following the sentencing of perpetrator Alexandre Bissonnette, on February 8, 2019.

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

In 2011, Canadian law was amended to allow judges to impose consecutive sentences instead of concurrent 10- or 25-year sentences with no parole eligibility, for multiple murders. Bissonnette's parents were also present. 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.

Huot said Bissonnette's actions in entering the mosque at the end of prayers and shooting congregants were not a terrorist attack, but motivated by prejudice, particularly toward Muslim immigrants.

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