World Bulletin / News Desk
The man charged with killing six men at a Quebec City mosque will forego a preliminary hearing and go directly to trial, it was decided Monday in a Quebec court.
The prosecution filed a direct indictment to speed up the trial of Andre Bissonnette, who faces six charges of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder using a restricted weapon.
But he will not face terrorism charges, said Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques.
Under Canadian law, there is unlikely to be a conviction under terrorism charges if a person acts alone, as authorities believe is the case with Bissonnette.
“A truly lone wolf attack cannot result in most terrorism offences, which require participation or support of a group or commission of an offence for a group,” University of Toronto law professor Ken Roach told Canadian media.
The penalty under terrorism charges would be no more severe than if Bissonnette, 27, is convicted on first-degree murder charges.
But not leveling the charge did not sit well with the vice-president of the Islamic Cultural Centre, where the victims were shot in the back as they prayed in late January.
“This terrorist act must be recognized and condemned, so that it serves as a strong lesson for Quebec society, Canadian society and … globally,” Boufeldja Benabdallah told Canadian media.
But the Crown prosecutor said he had to proceed within the framework of the Canadian criminal code.
“All the evidence gathered by the various police forces involved in this large-scale investigation has been rigorously analyzed and the charges laid are the result (of) the evidence gathered, the available evidence and the current laws in Canada,” Jacques said.
For the first time, five of the six women widowed by the shootings were in court and were often in tears, Canadian media reported.
But they left without speaking to reporters.
Bissonnette had faced five counts of attempted murder, but Jacques said the Crown on Monday laid another charge of attempted murder with a restricted firearm to reflect the close proximity of 35 people, including four children, who could have been hit by gunfire.
Benabdallah said he was pleased with the new charge.
“They were physically, morally and psychologically wounded,” he said.
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