Canada's top court to review sentencing for 2017 mosque shooter

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Alexandre Bissonnette, a suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the court house in Quebec City

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal that challenges a decision by a Quebec court to speed up the parole eligibility for the man convicted of gunning down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder for the attack, one of Canada's rare mass shootings.

In 2019 he was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 40 years behind bars, but a Quebec appeals court in 2020 lowered his parole eligibility to 25 years, describing the original sentence as "cruel and unusual."

That more lenient parole sentencing was challenged this year by federal prosecutors to the Supreme Court, which said in a statement that it would review the lower court decision. No dates were set for a future hearing or a ruling.

At the time of the attack, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the shooting as a terrorist act. The judge in the original trial said Bissonnette's actions - entering the mosque at the end of prayers and shooting congregants - was motivated by prejudice, particularly toward Muslim immigrants.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)