A Quebec judge's "unusual" decision to modify the Criminal Code as he sentenced six-time murderer Alexandre Bissonnette to a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 40 years highlights the ongoing legal debate over consecutive life sentences in Canada, according to legal experts.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot called Alexandre Bissonnette's attack gratuitous and insidious as he handed down the sentence Friday.
On the evening of January 29, 2017, Bissonnette stormed into the centre and shot at those gathered for prayers, killing six and seriously injuring five others, including Aymen Derbali, who is now paralyzed.
Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty a year ago to six counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder in relation to the shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on 29 January 2017.
The defence had argued Bissonnette should be eligible for parole after 25 years, but Huot said that would be too little.
Bissonnette received a life sentence and can apply for parole after 40 years, but that doesn't mean he's likely to get parole.
The Criminal Code was amended in 2011 to allow a judge to impose consecutive sentences in cases of multiple murder, but it was clear as Huot spent almost six hours reading the decision that he was wrestling with the constitutionality of the provision.
The six men killed were Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Aboubaker Thabti and Azzeddine Soufiane.More news: Here's Everything to Know About the 2019 Grammys
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Silver agreed that the Bissonnette sentencing is also likely to be appealed, and she believes that's a good thing.
While underscoring the brutality of the attack, Justice Huot suggested that such a harsh sentence would be excessive by denying the defendant the hope of ever leaving prison.
At the start of his trial in 2017, he said he had been suicidal, "swept away by fear and by awful despair", and deeply regretted his "unforgivable" actions.
People hold candles for victims of Sunday's deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque, during a vigil in Montreal on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017.
But in a police interrogation, Bissonnette told investigators he wanted to protect his family from terrorists when he committed the killings.
However, Huot said under Canadian law he could only decide in 25-year tranches on parole, CBC News' Catou MacKinnon reported, and 50 years was "clearly excessive".
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.