Trial starts in Quebec City mosque shooting case


Quebec City (AFP)

A Canadian man went on trial Monday for an attack on a Quebec City mosque last year, pleading not guilty to charges of shooting to death six worshippers and wounding many others.

As each of the 12 counts of murder and attempted murder against him were read out in court, Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, murmured: "Not guilty."

The rampage on January 29, 2017 was one of the deadliest ever against Muslims in a western country, leaving six dead and 19 injured.

The gunman opened fire at the end of Sunday prayers at Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Center, a mosque located in a normally quiet neighborhood.

Police say Bissonnette called an emergency line after the shooting and confessed.

They found him in his car, parked on the side of a rural road about 20 kilometers from the mosque.

His attorneys, however, are expected to challenge the validity of the confession in court.

The accused appeared to show little interest in the court proceedings, only occasionally glancing in the direction of his lawyers.

Over the coming days, the court will select 12 jurors for the trial by judge and jury, from a list of 600, of which nearly one-fifth have asked to be recused.

The prosecution and defense are expected to then present a joint statement of facts, followed by the first witnesses expected to testify.

The trial is scheduled to last until the end of May.