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Quebec City mosque shooter’s appeal to be heard in 2020

Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the court house on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger

Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette’s appeal is expected to be heard mid-January 2020.

A more precise date will be allocated in the coming weeks, confirmed Caroline St-Pierre, a spokesperson for the Quebec courthouse.

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The Court of Appeal convened on Monday with Bissonnette’s lawyers, Crown prosecutors, and the attorney general.

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Both the Crown and defence have filed appeals after Bissonnette was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for 40 years by Judge François Huot on Feb. 8 for the murders of six men on January 29, 2017 at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.

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Prosecutors and the attorney general are asking the court for a minimum sentence of 50 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. At sentencing, the Crown sought 150 years.

In its notice of appeal, the Crown also said the trial judge made several errors that affected his decision, including how to determine the number of years of parole ineligibility.

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Bissonnette’s defence lawyers, on the other hand, are asking for his parole eligibility to come after 25 years, claiming any more would be cruel and unusual punishment.

The defence argued in its motion that Huot’s sentence was “illegal” and “manifestly unreasonable.”

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This was the harshest prison term ever issued in Quebec and one of the longest in Canada. In 2011 the Criminal Code reform allowed consecutive life sentences for multiple murders.

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Monday’s session was attended by Dominique Bélanger, judge co-ordinator of the Court of Appeal in Quebec City.

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The Court of Appeal’s job is to affirm or invalidate, in whole or in part, the decision of the trial judge.

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This means no witnesses will be called in and no new evidence will be examined.

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Bélanger determined that all three parties will have until Sept. 13 to file their brief, and then another 30 days to respond to the others’ submissions.

Bissonnette does not have to attend the proceedings, as with all cases filed at the Court of Appeal.

— with files from The Canadian Press.

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