File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Quebec’s Crown prosecutors’ office and the provincial attorney general filed their appeal Monday in Quebec City, arguing the sentence imposed does not reflect the gravity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of Alexandre Bissonnette

Crown, attorney general to appeal mosque gunman Alexandre Bissonnette’s sentence

MONTREAL — Quebec’s Crown prosecutors’ office and the provincial attorney general will appeal the sentence handed down to the gunman who killed six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

The prosecutors and the attorney general filed their appeal Monday in Quebec City, arguing the sentence imposed does not reflect the gravity of the crime and the degree of responsibility of Alexandre Bissonnette.

Bissonnette was sentenced Feb. 8 to life behind bars without possibility of parole for 40 years.

In court documents, the Crown and the attorney general are seeking to have the inadmissibility period raised to 50 years. At sentencing, the Crown had sought 150 years.

Lawyers for Bissonnette announced Friday they are also appealing the killer’s sentence, asking that he be eligible for parole in 25 years. The defence claimed in its appeal motion that the 40-year sentence handed down to Bissonnette was cruel and unusual punishment.

It was the harshest prison term ever in Quebec and one of the longest in Canada, which since a 2011 Criminal Code reform has allowed consecutive life sentences for multiple murders.

The defence argued in its motion that Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot’s sentence was “illegal” and “manifestly unreasonable.”

In its notice of appeal, the Crown also said the trial judge made several errors that affected his decision, including how to determine the number of years of parole ineligibility.

They argued the consideration given to aggravating and mitigating factors was wrong, leading to a sentence that didn’t reflect the gravity of the crimes.

Huot rejected the Crown’s call to sentence Bissonnette to 150 years with no chance of parole, arguing a sentence of 50 years would contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, the judge rewrote the 2011 consecutive sentencing law.

Huot gave himself the discretion to deliver consecutive life sentences that are not in blocks of 25 years, as had previously been the case, arriving at a total of 40 years.

The Crown argues on appeal that amounted to trivializing “the subjective gravity of the offences in question.” It has suggested that if the Appeal Court doesn’t accept the 50-year ineligibility period it has proposed, something more than 40 years should be imposed, without specifying a figure.

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