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Canada sentences man who killed 6 in mosque

Updated February 10, 2019

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The 29-year-old French-Canadian attacker has been sentenced to 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole. ─ Reuters/File
The 29-year-old French-Canadian attacker has been sentenced to 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole. ─ Reuters/File

QUEBEC: A French-Canadian man who shot dead six Muslim men in a Quebec City mosque in 2017 has been sentenced to serve 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot called Alexandre Bissonnette’s attack gratuitous and insidious as he handed down the sentence on Friday.

Bissonnette, now 29, pleaded guilty last March to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder. More than 50 people were at the Islamic Cultural Centre in January 2017 when he began shooting during evening prayers. In pleading guilty, Bissonnette expressed shame and remorse for his actions but offered no clear explanation of why he did it.

In a statement read in court, he said he was “neither a terrorist nor an Islamophobe”, but rather someone who was “overcome by fear, by negative thoughts and a sort of horrible kind of despair”.

But in a police interrogation, Bissonnette told investigators he wanted to protect his family from terrorists when he committed the killings. He referred to numerous attacks and said he “lost it” after learning Canada was preparing to take in more refugees.

Six men, aged between 39 and 60, were killed when Bissonnette stormed the mosque and opened fire on Jan 29, 2017.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019