Quebec mosque killer jailed for life without parole for 40 years

Alexandre Bissonnette, 29.

A Canadian man who killed worshippers in a mosque in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, can apply for parole in 40 years.

The prosecution had requested for a total of 150 years imprisonment, which would have been the longest jail sentence in Canadian history.

Instead, Justice Francois Huot opted for the possibility of parole within Bissonnette’s natural life.

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

A first-degree murder conviction in Canada carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

On the evening of 29 January 2017, Bissonnette stormed into the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre and shot at worshippers, killing six and seriously injuring five others, including Aymen Derbali, who is now paralysed for life.

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In March, Bissonnette admitted to killing Khaled Belkacemi, 60, Azzedine Soufiane, 57, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, Aboubaker Thabti, 44, and Ibrahima Barry, 39, in the horrific attack.

He also pleaded guilty to six counts of attempted murder, including one count for the 35 people who were in the mosque at the time of the attack but left unharmed.

The killer told a Quebec courtroom: “I am ashamed of what I did…I am not a terrorist, I am not an Islamophobe.”

Justice Huot said Bissonnette’s actions in entering the mosque at the end of Isha prayers and shooting worshippers was motivated by religious prejudice.

Both prosecution and defence lawyers said they needed time to assess the judge’s lengthy decision amid the possibility of an appeal.

Mr Derbali told reporters at the Quebec City courthouse that majority of the survivors were very disappointed with the judge’s ruling.

He said the punishment was not proportionate to the seriousness of Bissonnette’s crimes.

In 2011, Canadian law was amended to allow judges to hand down consecutive sentences instead of concurrent 10 or 25-year sentences without eligibility of parole, for multiple murders.

Bissonnette’s lawyers argued that if he was sentenced to 25 years consecutively for each murder it would amount to death by incarceration.

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