Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Canada sentences man who killed 6 in mosque

Canada sentences man who killed 6 in mosque

A Quebec City court handed a life sentence on Friday to the gunman who fatally shot six members of a Quebec mosque in 2017.

Huot rejected the prosecutor's request, saying it was "unreasonable", and explained that a sentence of more than 50 years would be a cruel and unusual punishment, CTV reported.

Sentences that exceed an offender's life expectancy and offer no reasonable hope of release are "grossly disproportionate and totally incompatible with human dignity", he wrote in his 246-page decision. His lawyer had argued the sentences should be served concurrently, making him eligible for parole after 25 years.

That 150-year sentence would have been the longest ever imposed in Canada and meant that he would die in prison.

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

The attack at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in the quiet Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Canada's oldest city, he concluded, will go down in Canadian history "written in blood" as one of this country's worst tragedies.

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.

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

Justice Francois 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.

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

Recent high-profile sentencing decisions across Canada have reflected different judicial approaches to the idea of multiple life sentences.

The longest prison sentence in Canada to date is 75 years without parole, which has been given to at least five triple killers since the law was changed to allow consecutive sentences.

Bissonnette also told a psychiatrist that he regretted not killing more people. "And when you have appeals and decisions that, in a public view don't seem consistent, it's hard for people to move on with their lives".

"The difficulty in the street level is, these are communities that need to have some closure", she said.

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