29-year-old Canadian man who gunned down six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017 sentenced to life imprisonment
He carried out one of the rarest mass shootings in Canada back in 2017, causing a raging debate about the country's treatment of immigrants and their safety.
29-year-old, Alexandre Bissonnette, the Canadian man who had killed six members of a Quebec mosque in 2017, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday by the Quebec Superior Court. Justice Francois Huot allowed the possibility for parole after 40 years, but there is no guarantee if he will receive the parole. Last year in March the 29-year-old had pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder for the attack. He is known to have been a supporter of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump.
This is one of the rarest deadly mass shootings in Canada. The country is known to be among the top ideal places for immigrants around the world to settle in as permanent residents due to its several immigration programs that help thousands of candidates across the globe to get permanent residence in different provinces. It has always ensured high-level security for individuals who are willing to settle in Canada. As the country has always been well renowned for its appropriate immigration policies, such an attack on the Muslims was nothing less than a shock.
The attack of January 29, 2017 had left six dead. Aside from the six killed, five other men were injured by Bissonnette’s gunfire. Another 35 people, including four children, were in the mosque. Armed with a .223-calibre rifle and a 9-mm Glock pistol, Bissonnette was carrying 108 bullets when he entered the place of worship, shooting into the crowded prayer room as Sunday prayers were ending.
The attack had also given rise to a debate over the treatment of new arrivals at that time when an increasing number of immigrants were crossing the borders of the U.S. into the province of Quebec. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had claimed it to be "terrorist attack", Judge Huot mentioned that the day of the murders "will forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country". The judge mentioned that Bissonnette's actions of entering a place of prayer to kill off innocent people were possibly motivated by prejudice towards the religious community.
The 40-year prison term, however, wasn't welcomed by leaders of the mosque, who said it didn’t adequately reflect the severity of a crime, reports The Globe and Mail. “I want to convey … the disappointment and total surprise of all the victims and the entire community,” Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the Islamic centre, told reporters after the sentence was handed down. “We want to appeal to Quebec society to understand us, to understand the pain we’re in today, to understand the disappointment we feel.”
BREAKING Alexandre Bissonnette sentenced to minimum 40 years in prison without parole for six murders, attempted murders of 40 people, including four children.— Catou MacKinnon (@CatouCBC) February 8, 2019
Judge rules using 2011 Harper law would violate his constitutional rights - changes it slightly. pic.twitter.com/YQXBrbmJxf
However, in his defense, the 29-year-old had claimed in the courtroom, "I am ashamed of what I did. I am not a terrorist, I am not an Islamophobe." His apology did not have any effect on the judge who took under consideration Bissonnette's mental health issues, including an obsession with suicide. The judge also recounted Bissonnette's remark to a prison social worker back in September 2017, when he had claimed the desire for "glory" in shooting congregants and he stated that he "regretted not shooting anymore". Considering Bissonnette's disturbed state of mind, lawyers for both the defense and the prosecution said they needed time to analyze the judge's lengthy decision.