Quebec Mosque Shooter Alexandre Bissonnette's Sentencing Underway

Quebec Mosque Shooter Alexandre Bissonnette's Sentencing Underway

Quebec Mosque Shooter Alexandre Bissonnette's Sentencing Underway

The gunman who opened fire inside a Canadian mosque in 2017, killing six Muslim men, has been sentenced to life in prison without the option of parole for at least 40 years.

The Crown has recommended that Bissonnette serve six consecutive sentences totalling 150 years, while the defence has argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

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

While he did not strike down the section, he rewrote it to give himself the discretion to deliver consecutive life sentences that are not in blocks of 25 years, as had been the case.

Last March, Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in the attack.

Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39, were all shot in the place of worship.

The dark-haired, slightly-built Bissonnette, who wore a white shirt under a navy blue jacket and handcuffs, had been described by police as a lone-wolf attacker.

Before finalizing the sentence, Huot warned the courtroom to be respectful of the decision, saying that no protest would be tolerated.

"Time goes by quickly", he said.

A university student at the time of the shooting, Bissonnette was seduced by nationalist and supremacist ideologies into committing this "unjustified and deadly" massacre, Huot said.

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

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As the 246-page verdict was read over six hours, Bissonnette sat quietly in the courtroom, gazing at his feet while his parents and several friends and family of the victims wiped tears from their eyes.

Alexandre Bissonnette will have to wait 40 years - longer than usual - before he can apply for parole.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot called Alexandre Bissonnette's attack gratuitous and insidious as he handed down the sentence today.

Silver agreed that the Bissonnette sentencing is also likely to be appealed, and she believes that's a good thing.

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

"He really backed himself up, to use the expression", he said.

Following hearings a year ago, the sentence was expected to be handed down in October, but the judge delayed it to have more time to ponder his decision.

In addition to the men killed, five others were struck by bullets.

The crime prompted an outpouring of horror and sympathy that reached across Canada and around the world, prompting a wider conversation on Islamophobia, intolerance, and the need for better understanding between communities.

In pleading guilty, Bissonnette expressed shame and remorse for his actions but offered no clear explanation of why he did it. "I am not a terrorist, I am not an Islamophobe".

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