A man who shot dead six worshippers at a Quebec mosque in 2017 had his sentence reduced to 25 years in prison.
This was announced on Thursday when a Canadian court ruled it was unconstitutional for him to serve consecutive life sentences.
Alexandre Bissonnette, who turns 31 next week, was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison with no possibility of release for 40 years.
The Quebec Court of Appeal said a provision of the Criminal Code introduced in 2011 permits judges to impose consecutive life sentences for multiple murders.
The panel of three judges unanimously said it “makes it possible to impose a penalty which will at all times be cruel and unusual, and grossly disproportionate.”
Bissonnette was 27 at the time of his arrest. The prosecution had asked for a 150-year sentence, which would have been the longest ever in Canada. The defense petitioned for 25 years.
Subjecting a murderer to a sentence greater than the victim’s life expectancy risked sowing doubt as to the credibility of the judicial system.
The appeals court said Francois Huot should have “invalidated” the sentencing provision and handed Bissonnette concurrent sentences in accordance to the law as it was written prior to 2011.
On 29th January, 2017, Bissonnette entered the Qubec City mosque and fired a hail of bullets on 40 men and 4 children after evening prayers. Six men were killed and five were seriously injured after he fired shots “like he was playing a video game,” as recounted by one witness at his trial.
Bissonnette was described after his arrest as a white supremacist opposed to Muslim immigration but not affiliated with any groups.
Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Quebec mosque, said he was “disappointed” by the revised sentence, noting that the victims’ families must relive the tragedy at each judicial stage.