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

PHOTOS: Grieving Langley widow, with teen boy, shares a story of angels

Walnut Grove’s Rick Rozdeba’s hospice story evoked tears and brought the crowd to its feet.

Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

Langley foot race blends love of running and animals

Cat mom and long-time shelter volunteer speaks to excitement for Sunday run.

Langley’s L.J. Tidball debuts and wins in Mexican Nations Cup

As one of four Canadian riders, a local show park owner helped secure the country’s victory.

Demolition suggestion outside role of inspector: Fraser Health

Letters on Fort Langley buildings say they are rat and vermin infested.

Police release criminal profile of suspect in Burnaby teen’s murder

Marrisa Shen was found dead in a Burnaby park last summer

TRAFFIC ALERT: Mounties shut down Port Mann Bridge

A police incident has the bridge closed in both directions, but RCMP expect it to re-open soon.

Aldergrove youth soccer ‘springs’ into action

Aldergrove Youth Soccer kids sprang into action Monday evening on first spring-like day of the year

‘Rusting in Peace’

Langley Quilters turn art into quilt for 2018 show

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

EDITORIAL: Speaking out for sexual identities

Both sides of SOGI debate for B.C. schools show signs of bravery, but not all are heroic

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

Most Read