Quebec mosque shooter sentenced to life with no parole for 40 years

Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette to be sentenced Friday

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.

Prosecutors had said that Alexandre Bissonnette's crime was so hateful and so obviously motivated by bigotry that he should receive the maximum penalty of 25 years for each of the victims the 29-year-old murdered on the night of January 29, 2017.

The prosecution had recommended that his six life sentences be served consecutively, which would have meant 150 years before being eligible for parole. He referred to numerous attacks and said he "lost it" after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees. His lawyer had argued the sentences should be served concurrently, making him eligible for parole after 25 years.

"I am ashamed of what I did", he told a Quebec courtroom at the time.

A university student at the time of the shooting, Bissonnette appeared to have been seduced by nationalist and supremacist ideologies into committing this "unjustified and deadly" massacre that sought to "undermine our fundamental societal values", the judge said.

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.

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

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

On the other hand, the judge said, Bissonnette had no previous criminal record, he pleaded guilty and he expressed remorse. More than 50 people were at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in January 2017 when he began shooting during evening prayers.

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.

He told police investigators that he believed a terrorist attack was imminent and felt he "had to do something".

Under Canadian law, Bissonnette could have gone to prison for 150 years or 25 years for each of the six deaths.

Huot said Bissonnette's actions in entering the mosque at the end of prayers and shooting congregants were not a terrorist attack, but motivated by prejudice, particularly toward Muslim immigrants.

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