Quebec City mosque shooting: Alexandre Bissonnette pleads guilty

He wanted “to avoid a trial and for the victims to not have to relive this tragedy”

In a stunning turn of events, the man accused of killing six Muslim men as they attended prayer in a Quebec City mosque last year has pleaded guilty to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder.

Many people in the courtroom burst out sobbing and held hands Wednesday as the judge confirmed Alexandre Bissonnette’s guilty pleas.

Bissonnette, 28, originally pleaded not guilty to the 12 charges Monday morning but that afternoon announced he was changing his mind and wanted to plead guilty.

“In my heart, it’s the decision I have wanted to make in order to avoid a trial and for the victims to not have to relive this tragedy,” he told the court Monday

Superior Court Justice Francois Huot originally refused to accept the pleas pending a psychiatric assessment of the accused to ensure he fully understood the consequences of his decision.

Huot placed a publication ban on Monday afternoon’s proceedings but agreed Wednesday to accept the 12 guilty pleas.

The charges against Bissonnette were related to a shooting attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in January 2017 in which he killed six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

Psychiatrist Sylvain Faucher said Bissonnette “is fit to stand trial and to plead what he wants to plead.”

“He did not want to be the perpetrator of another collective drama,” said Faucher, who met with Bissonnette on Monday evening.

The counts of attempted murder involved five people who were struck by bullets and a sixth charge encompassed the other people present at the mosque.

Many members of Quebec City’s Muslim community were present in court Monday and Wednesday.

“That the trial won’t have to take place, it’s a good thing for us, it’s a good thing for everyone in the community,” Amir Belkacemi, Belkacemi’s son, told reporters.

“Very relieved.”

Asked why, Belkacemi said that what happened 14 months ago is still very fresh in people’s minds.

“I think the events that took place last year are very traumatic, very difficult,” he said. “No one really wants to live those traumatic days again, and today what happened in the courtroom kind of puts it to an end.”

Bissonnette told Huot on Monday he had been thinking for sometime of pleading guilty but that he was missing certain pieces of evidence, which were relayed Sunday.

When Huot asked him if he was fully aware of what he was doing, Bissonnette replied, “Yes.”

He also said he was not changing his pleas because of any threats and that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Huot asked Bissonnette whether he knew he would be getting a life sentence and he answered, ”I understand.”

Huot also asked him if he understood he could receive consecutive sentences, meaning 150 years of prison.

” I know,” Bissonnette replied, in a low voice.

Sentencing arguments will take place at a later date.

Jury selection had been scheduled to start April 3 and the trial to last two months.

Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Inductees announced for 2019 BC Cowboy Hall of Fame

Willie Crosina, Lawrence Elkins, Phillip Camille and Moon family to be enshrined

RCMP investigate suspicious death near Williams Lake

Body found in home on Mountain House Road Tuesday night

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Mount Polley hosting public information meeting in Williams Lake Friday

Representatives from Mount Polley and Golder Associates will be there to give updates

Project seeks nominations for great employers in Williams Lake

Business at its Best is an initiative hoping to celebrate employment excellence

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read