Quebec Mosque disappointed with Supreme Court ruling allowing shooter to seek parole after 25 years

Police inspect the scene of a shooting at a Quebec City mosque on January 29, 2017.the canadian press

Families of victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting say they fear Friday’s Supreme Court ruling means orphaned children may one day meet their parents’ killer on the streets of Quebec’s capital. .

Canada’s top court has ruled that the killer who carried out a deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque in 2017 can apply for parole after 25 years behind bars. The court declared unconstitutional a provision in the 2011 Penal Code that allowed a judge, in the case of multiple murders, to impose a life sentence and periods of disqualification from parole of 25 consecutive years for each murder.

Mohamed Labidi, president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, where the killer gunned down six men after prayers, said the families of the victims expressed real concern that the killer is a free man in a relatively short period of time. short.

“Maybe parole (officials) will delay this release a little bit (and) take it into account, but that’s our real fear,” Labidi told a news conference.

The Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec said in a statement Friday that the high court’s decision did not give due consideration to “the atrocity and scourge of multiple murders” or the hateful, Islamophobic and racist nature of the crime.

Mosque members said they were disappointed with the high court’s decision, but added that it allows them to close the legal chapter and focus on the future.

“Philosophically, yes, we would like to turn the page and I personally as an individual want to turn the page,” mosque co-founder Boufeldja Benabdallah told reporters. “I’ve been hurt enough and I’ve cried enough.”

Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Five others were seriously injured in the January 2017 attack, including a man who was left paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.

A trial judge found the 2011 parole ineligibility provision unconstitutional, but did not declare it invalid, ultimately ruling that Bissonnette must wait 40 years before applying for parole. The Quebec Court of Appeal said the judge was wrong to make the period of ineligibility 40 years and that the court should go back to the law as it was before 2011, resulting in a full waiting period for Bissonnette. 25 years old.

The Supreme Court said the 2011 law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that to ensure respect for the inherent dignity of every individual, the charter requires Parliament to leave a door open for rehabilitation, even in cases where this goal is secondary. importance.

In the Quebec City courthouse, Daniel Belanger, the city’s chief prosecutor, said he would not comment on the decision out of deference to the higher court, but spoke of the victims and their families.

“This day marks the end of a long judicial process for them, but we are aware that it is not the end of their mourning and healing process,” Belanger said, reading from a prepared statement.

He said the Crown and Quebec City police were diligent in their work all the way to the Supreme Court, demonstrating the court system’s ability to conclude complex cases in the public interest.

Belanger reminded reporters in Quebec City that Bissonnette received a life sentence and that the parole board will decide whether to release him. The killer, he said, would be subject to strict conditions and surveillance by a probation officer for the rest of his life should he be released from prison.

“Although this case has become a constitutional debate regarding the provisions of the Penal Code, we must remember, to close, the six murdered people and the other victims of this attack on January 29, 2017,” said Belanger.

“Our thoughts are now with the victims and their families and the community affected by this crime that has marked the collective conscience. We praise your courage, your resilience and your dignity at this time.”

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