Quebec City mosque shooter not a ‘terrorist’: Crown psychiatrist
The Crown called a legal psychiatrist to the stand Thursday in Alexandre Bissonnette‘s sentencing hearings.
The gunman behind the Quebec City mosque shooting faces up to 150 years in prison, but if the judge allows him to serve his six life sentences concurrently, he could have a chance at parole after 25 years.
This week, Bissonnette’s lawyers called three expert witnesses — a forensic psychologist and two legal psychiatrists — to testify on behalf of their client.
They told the judge the Quebec City mosque shooter posed a moderate risk to re-offend, but with psychiatric help, the 28-year-old could be reformed in prison.
On March 28, Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six counts of first degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.
Throughout the three-week long hearing, the court heard evidence that will determine Superior Court Judge François Huot’s decision on Bissonnette’s sentence.
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The court saw surveillance video that showed Bissonnette approaching the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 and execute his first two witnesses at close range with a 9mm handgun.
The courtroom saw Azzedine Soufiane sacrifice his own life to try to stop Bissonnette; it heard the gunman admit to police he planned the shooting because he believed there were dangerous fanatics in the mosque and he wanted to save people from terrorists.
On the last day of sentencing arguments, legal psychiatrist Dr. Gilles Chamberland told the court Bissonnette was not a terrorist because he didn’t subscribe to any type of ideology.
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“This crime was too egotistical to be a terrorist act,” he said, explaining Bissonnette was motivated by the desire to seek power and fame for his racist beliefs, despite the shooter claiming he is not Islamophobic.
“Was this racist? Totally racist, even if [Bissonnette] doesn’t see it…it’s clear this was based on something completely false,” Chamberland told the court.
He also contradicted the defense’s experts, saying it is impossible to predict if Bissonnette will commit another violent crime if he’s ever released on parole.
He said therapy can work but it “causes suffering” and the prison environment “is going to always challenge [Bissonnette].”
The judge said he will not make a decision on the 28-year-old’s sentence until September.
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