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Quebec mosque shooting wasn't terrorism, Crown psychiatrist testifies

Last Updated Apr 26, 2018 at 3:00 pm PDT

Police interview Alexandre Bissonnette on January 30, 2017, the day after the mosque attacks, in this still from an interrogation video shown by the Crown to the sentencing hearings in Quebec City in this handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Surete du Quebec

QUEBEC – Sentencing arguments for the Quebec City mosque shooter ended Thursday with a forensic psychiatrist testifying that Alexandre Bissonnette’s murderous rampage was a racist act but not terrorism.

Gilles Chamberland, who spent four hours with Bissonnette on Wednesday, said the killer didn’t promote any type of ideology in carrying out actions that saw him murder six worshippers in January 2017.

He said Bissonnette, 28, had suicidal tendencies but that just taking his own life without doing anything else seemed insufficient for the killer.

Bissonnette then fabricated a racist hypothesis, “based on things that are completely false,” which he needed to believe in so he could target the Muslim community, said Chamberland.

“It’s a crime that is too egotistic to be a terrorist act. But it is a crime steeped in racism even if he doesn’t see it.”

When he pleaded guilty at the end of March to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder, Bissonnette said he was not Islamophobic.

Chamberland, who was testifying at the request of the Crown, told Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot it’s difficult to assess the convicted killer’s potential for rehabilitation and that nobody knows what he will be like in 25 years.

While his first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, Bissonnette can also receive consecutive sentences, which means he could spend up to 150 years in prison.

Huot told the killer he is not ruling out a sentence longer than 25 years.

“It is a possibility,” he told Bissonnette directly.

“And it would be illusory on your part to believe you will be sentenced before September.”

That’s because Bissonnette’s lawyers want the Criminal Code provision that allows for consecutive sentences to be declared unconstitutional.

Huot will hear arguments on that specific issue in the next few months.