The debate on the constitutionality of the consecutive sentences and the pleadings on the sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette will be held on June 18, 19 and 20.
The lawyers of the murderer of the Great Mosque will plead the first. They are calling for Bissonnette to serve life imprisonment with a single 25-year parole ineligibility period, the same sentence as an accused who has committed a single first degree murder.
In the eyes of the defense, consecutive periods, which could accumulate to 150 years in the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, represent cruel and disproportionate punishment, in contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Lawyers have even used the term “death sentence by incarceration” to illustrate their point.
Crown Attorneys will then advocate on the sentence that should be imposed on the murderer, whether or not the Criminal Code article on consecutive sentences is declared unconstitutional.
The lawyer representing the Attorney General of Quebec will argue last in an attempt to convince Justice François Huot of the Superior Court that the provision, in effect since 2011, may apply in the case of Bissonnette. No witnesses will be heard; lawyers will be content with documentary evidence and case law.
After the pleadings, the judge will take the whole matter under advisement. He has already indicated that he will not make a decision until September.
Request for transfer to the federal government
Alexandre Bissonnette’s attorney, Charles-Olivier Gosselin, reiterated his request to the Court to have his client transferred to the federal correctional system right away, since it is certain that he will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Assistance resources are minimal at the Québec Detention Center, argued Mr. Gosselin. Alexandre Bissonnette is in solitary confinement for long hours and does not have access to interveners to help him deal with the particular circumstances of his detention, added Mr. Gosselin.
The situation is even more difficult since an admirer of Bissonnette, Antonio Dion, is incarcerated at the Quebec Detention Center, with a ban on communicating with the murderer.
Judge Huot did not refuse the motion at the outset, but said he needed to think about it. “Even if we sent him immediately to the federal distribution center [for a minimum of 30 days], we could not give him all the help that his condition requires,” said Judge Huot.