The Supreme Court of Canada says Alexandre Bissonnette, who went on a deadly shooting spree at a Quebec City mosque, can apply for parole after 25 years.
In its unanimous decision today, the high court declares unconstitutional a 2011 Criminal Code provision that allowed a judge, in the event of multiple murders, to impose a life sentence and parole ineligibility periods of 25 years to be served consecutively for each murder.
The Supreme Court says the provision violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee against cruel or unusual treatment because it can deny offenders a realistic possibility of being granted parole before they die — a punishment that is degrading and incompatible with human dignity.
Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six charges of first-degree murder in the January 2017 assault that took place just after evening prayers.
A judge found the parole eligibility provision unconstitutional but did not declare it invalid, ultimately ruling Bissonnette must wait 40 years before applying for parole.
Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled the provision invalid on constitutional grounds and said the parole ineligibility periods should be served concurrently, meaning a total waiting period of 25 years in Bissonnette's case.