Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette appeals sentence
The Canadian man convicted of killing six Muslim worshippers at a Quebec City mosque two years ago and injuring many others has appealed his sentence, one month after a judge ordered him to prison for life without the possibility of parole for 40 years.
Alexandre Bissonnette's lawyers filed an appeal against the sentence in a Quebec City courthouse on Friday, CBC News first reported.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot handed down Bissonnette's sentence on 8 February, describing his crime was "gratuitous, covert and murderous".
His lawyers' appeal "seeks to have the sentence reduced to a minimum of 25 years served before Bissonnette is eligible for parole", CBC News said.
Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last year 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.
He opened fire in a crowded room at the Quebec City mosque shortly after evening prayers, killing six Muslim men: httAboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry and Azzedine Soufiane.
Nineteen others were wounded in the attack.
"29 January 2017 is a date that will remain written in blood in this city, this province, this country," Justice Huot said, as reported by Radio-Canada, when he handed down the sentence last month.
Still, Huot said in court that he struggled with his sentencing decision, pointing to a Canadian law that forces judges to impose parole in 25-year tranches.
Legal experts had said they expected Bissonnette's legal team to challenge the ruling.
Bissonnette's defence team had originally asked the judge to sentence him to life in prison without parole before 25 years.
The Crown had asked for no possibility of parole before 150 years - 25 years for each victim of the shooting - which would have been the harshest sentence in Canadian history.
The mosque shooting sent shockwaves across the country. The victims' families and Muslim advocacy groups have said no sentence can diminish the pain after what happened.
"It's very difficult, I would imagine, to really find true closure on a day like today," said Leila Nasr, spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), when the sentence was handed down.
"It's really just a day of processing what's happening and trying to find some sense of sanity in the middle of it," she told MEE at the time.