A Canadian man who gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017 was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, with the judge saying he would be eligible for parole after serving 40 years behind bars.
During the sentencing phase, investigators said Bissonnette's online activity showed he was fascinated by serial killers and the alt-right movement and was a fan of US President Donald Trump's immigration policies. He referred to numerous attacks and said he "lost it" after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees.
But instead of sentencing Bissonnette to serve his six sentences concurrently, Huot rewrote the 2011 consecutive sentencing law, section 745.51 of the Criminal Code, to give himself the discretion to deliver consecutive life sentences that are not in blocks of 25 years, as had been the case.
The 2017 shooting incident described as one of Canada's rarest mass shootings which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced a "terrorist attack", provoked debate over new arrivals at a time when a growing number of migrants moved from the USA into Quebec.
But the judge also said Bissonnette's mental health issues, including an obsession with suicide, played a role in the shooting and influenced his sentence.
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. Bissonnette's parents were also present.
Six men were killed and five were seriously injured, one of whom is now quadriplegic.
"He really backed himself up, to use the expression", he said.
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. The sixth attempted murder charge related to others who were nearby in the mosque.
He argued a 150-year term would be the equivalent of a death sentence.
"His crimes were truly motivated by race and a visceral hatred toward Muslim immigrants", the judge said, adding that his crimes were "premeditated, gratuitous and abject". Several of the survivors and the victims' families had 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.
But Bissonnette's lawyer, Charles-Olivier Gosselin, portrayed his client as an anxious and fragile man who deeply regrets his actions and is not beyond rehabilitation.
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