Canadian man gets life for killing 6 in Quebec mosque shooting

A Quebec judge's "unusual" decision to modify the Criminal Code as he sentenced six-time murderer Alexandre Bissonnette to a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 40 years highlights the ongoing legal debate over consecutive life sentences in Canada, according to legal experts. More than 50 people were at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in January 2017 when he began shooting during evening prayers.

Bissonnette received a life sentence and can apply for parole after 40 years, but that doesn't mean he's likely to get parole.

The judge told Bissonnette, wearing a blue blazer and white shirt, to leave the prisoners' box and stand in front of him as he read his decision.

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

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.

Justice Huot said Bissonnette's actions in entering the mosque at the end of prayers and shooting congregants was motivated by prejudice.

While reading his sentencing decision, the Quebec Superior Court judge said that "punishment should not be vengeance".

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

Outside the courtroom, Aymen Derbali, who was left quadriplegic after the shooting, said he was "very upset and astonished" that Bissonnette did not get more time.

The longest sentence to date in Canada is 75 years without parole.

Mohamed Labidi, former president of Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre, said the Muslim community is looking for justice in Friday's ruling.

"This was a very serious attack in a place of worship", he said. During a sentencing hearing last June, the conversation began to shift to the appropriate way to punish a crime that was, in many ways, unprecedented in Canadian history.

Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to six counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder on the wounded, and a sixth count of attempted murder for the 35 people, including children, present during the attack.

He told police investigators that he believed a terrorist attack was imminent and felt he "had to do something".

This morning, the prosecution is calling for Bissonnette to serve six consecutive life sentences with parole ineligibility for 150 years, making it the longest sentence in Canada history.

One of the man's victim who was paralyzed in the attack, Aymen Derbali, said that numerous survivors were not pleased with the judge's sentencing.

  • Rogelio Becker