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

Where to find community holiday feasts in Langley

A variety of groups are hosting free meals for the Langley community to fill up on.

Looking for the buzz on Langley tree chipping events

Send us details on tree chipping events so we can help spread the word.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals in Aldergrove

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

New laws give Langley RCMP more power to test suspected drunk drivers

New legislation take effect this week that will allow broader breathalyzer testing.

Kazakhstan makes it three hockey wins in a row, downing BCIHL Young Stars at Langley Events Centre

‘We had a fighting chance,’ said BCIHL Young Stars head coach Barret Kropf

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Most Read