Appeal likely for Bissonnette judge's 'unusual' sentencing decision

Alexandre Bissonnette

Alexandre Bissonnette

A Canadian judge has sentenced a man accused of killing six men at a Quebec City mosque to life in prison with no chance for parole for 40 years. Several people in the room wept as the judge read a detailed account of the shooter's actions.

On the evening of January 29, 2017, Bissonnette burst into the Quebec City mosque and unleashed a hail of bullets on the 40 men and four children who were chatting among themselves after evening prayers.

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

The sentencing Friday of Alexandre Bissonnette in Quebec City and Bruce McArthur in Toronto in two horrific multiple murder cases has again shone light on a provision of the Criminal Code allowing killers to receive consecutive life sentences in Canada.

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

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.

He called the shooting a gratuitous act of fanaticism, and said that its date will "forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country".

If this is granted, Bissonnette will be able to apply for parole, which means he could be released from prison by the time he turns 54-years-old.

This was a Reuters error as the judge was still reading his judgment.

"QUOTE " httSix men - Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry and Azzedine Soufiane - were killed and 19 others were wounded in the shooting, including five critically. Bissonnette's parents were also present.

Witnesses at the time described the former Universite Laval student entering the Islamic Cultural Centre and calmly opening fire on the crowd gathered for evening prayers. Six people were killed and 19 others were injured.

But in a police interrogation played in court during sentencing, Bissonnette told investigators he wanted to protect his family from terrorists when he committed the killings.

However, Huot said under Canadian law he could only decide in 25-year tranches on parole, CBC News' Catou MacKinnon reported, and 50 years was "clearly excessive".

"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.

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