February 8, 2019 8:34 am
Updated: February 8, 2019 2:08 pm

Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette to learn sentence

WATCH ABOVE: Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty in the 2017 mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives ahead of sentencing. He will find out if he will receive concurrent or consecutive sentencing in the first-degree murder of six men and the attempted murder of six others.

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A judge has begun reading a decision that will determine whether the man who murdered six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017 spends the rest of his life behind bars.

Some in the courtroom Friday wept as Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot detailed Alexandre Bissonnette’s deadly attack.

Huot is ruling how long Bissonnette spends in prison before he is eligible for parole.

The judge told Bissonnette, wearing a blue blazer and white shirt, to leave the prisoners’ box and stand in front of him as he read his decision.

The judge said the day of the murders “will forever be written in blood in the history of this city, this province, this country.”

He called the shooting attack premeditated, gratuitous and insidious.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette could receive longest prison term ever in Canada

Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last March to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre during evening prayers on Jan. 29, 2017 and opened fire.

The murder victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

All 250 seats in the courtroom were filled, with a section reserved for members of Quebec City’s Muslim community. Bissonnette’s parents were also present.

WATCH BELOW: Alexandre Bissonnette parents arrive ahead of sentencing

Several people in the Quebec City courtroom wept as the judge read a detailed account of the shooter’s actions on the night of the crime.

Two women left the room in tears as Huot described how Bissonnette approached Soufiane as he lay on the ground, already wounded, and fired another bullet into his head.

The judge said that in the years leading up to the shooting Bissonnette increasingly drank alcohol and experienced anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Huot noted that witnesses at his sentencing hearing testified that he had been severely bullied in school, had a documented history of mental health problems and lacked empathy.

The judge quoted Bissonnette’s statement after the shootings: “I regret not having killed more people.”

First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole before 25 years.

The Crown has recommended that Bissonnette serve six consecutive sentences totalling 150 years, while the defence has argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

WATCH BELOW: A timeline of the deadly Quebec City mosque shooting

The Criminal Code was amended in 2011 to allow a judge to impose consecutive sentences in cases of multiple murder.

Several of the survivors and the victims’ families have argued for a sentence longer than 25 years, noting the heinous nature of the crime and the lasting trauma it caused for the Muslim community.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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