Quebec Mosque Shooter Set To Receive Longest Life Sentence In Canadian History

Alexandre Bissonnette

A Canadian man who shot dead six worshipers at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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

In his decision, Judge Francois Huot rejected a prosecution request for a 150-year sentence, which would have been the longest ever in Canada, saying "subjecting a murder to a sentence that exceeds his life expectancy" would be a cruel and unusual punishment under Canadian law.

"Charter challenges to the 2011 provisions had previously been denied on the basis that the judge was not forced to increase parole ineligibility for multiple murders", he wrote in an email.

He argued a 150-year term would be the equivalent of a death sentence.

While Huot said the attack was motivated by prejudice, he said it did not constitute a terror attack.

In a decision that took almost six hours to read, Huot said a sentence of 50 years or more would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The defense argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years, CNN partner CTV reported.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, February 21, 2017.

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"We were astonished, we were very upset after this sentence", Derbali said. The defence also said it needs time to study the ruling.

The longest sentences to date in Canada is 75 years without parole, which has been handed down in five cases - all involving triple murders.

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.

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

"He really backed himself up, to use the expression", he said. He noted that Bissonnette's mental health problems contributed to his actions and judged the danger of him reoffending as "moderate" at most.

Following hearings previous year, the sentence was expected to be handed down in October, but the judge delayed it to have more time to ponder his decision. He referred to numerous attacks in Europe as well as the 2014 shooting in Ottawa outside Parliament and said he "lost it" after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees.

But Renald Beaudry, a criminal lawyer who was at Bissonnette's sentencing, doesn't think the sentence would be easy to overturn.

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