Author Topic: Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism  (Read 154 times)

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Offline JMT

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Alexandre Bissonnette Not Likely to be Charged with Terrorism
« on: February 02, 2017, 09:28:12 am »
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To lay terrorism-related charges against Bissonnette, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the above was the motivation behind Sunday's attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Quebec Islamic cultural centre) that left six dead and 19 wounded.

It seems that the charge of terrorism is very onerous.  Do you think that charging Bissonnette with murder and attempted murder is enough?  Should this act have even been called terrorism?

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I don't know what the legal definition of terrorism is so maybe there is a good reason.  Knowing what motive he may have provided to police or his lawyer would help.   He did embrace far-right rhetoric and there was a report early on about someone asking onine  when the Mosque would be busiest because he wanted to go protest
 I think at the very least it should be classed as a hate crime.

Offline JMT

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Apparently he was at the mosque the day before asking for money - I'm not sure what that was about, or how that played in to things.

Offline cybercoma

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It's definitely terrorism. People need to be sure to keep legal definitions separate and distinct from practical spoken language. Killing and terrorizing a population for political or ideological ends is terrorism and that's exactly what he did.

Whatever benchmarks they need to meet for legal proof is another topic altogether. Besides, 6 murder convictions and however many attempted murders are on top of that would essentially have the same or greater consequences for him anyway, so the specific terrorism charge is moot.

Offline Blueblood

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It's definitely terrorism. People need to be sure to keep legal definitions separate and distinct from practical spoken language. Killing and terrorizing a population for political or ideological ends is terrorism and that's exactly what he did.

Whatever benchmarks they need to meet for legal proof is another topic altogether. Besides, 6 murder convictions and however many attempted murders are on top of that would essentially have the same or greater consequences for him anyway, so the specific terrorism charge is moot.

Yup, easier to prove murder than terrorism.  I doubt he will see the light of day again.  A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.

Offline SirJohn

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Does it really matter? The charge is like adding a 'hate crime' charge to someone who assaulted a person. I mean, the murder or assault is all you need. You don't need anything more. Maybe we're in a culture where simply charging and convicting someone of a violent crime isn't seen as enough of a denunciation of the crime and we want to do more.
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Offline JMT

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Does it really matter? The charge is like adding a 'hate crime' charge to someone who assaulted a person. I mean, the murder or assault is all you need. You don't need anything more. Maybe we're in a culture where simply charging and convicting someone of a violent crime isn't seen as enough of a denunciation of the crime and we want to do more.

I think that's what it's really about - the symbolism.  I'm surprised they didn't do it just for that, but I guess there's just too much risk involved with such a charge.

Offline ?Impact

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Do you think that charging Bissonnette with murder and attempted murder is enough?  Should this act have even been called terrorism?


There is no substantial difference between this act and the one a couple of years ago in Ottawa where Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed. That act was clearly called terrorism, and so should this one. The question of terrorism charges is a different issue for the crown prosecutor to decide. I believe there have only been 4 convictions (cases, not people) of terrorism charges, and I don't think any of them involved murder. The Ottawa case never made it to court because the offender was killed. If the offender is convicted of multiple counts of murder here, will terrorism charges put him away any longer? The prosecutor may decide that the extra burden of trying to prove terrorism may take away from the effort to get the murder charges.

Offline BC_cheque

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I don't understand why it would be difficult to prove.  If it were the other way around with a Muslim person shooting up a Church, would anyone have any lingering doubts about the crimes being terrorism?

Same idea behind the famous line in A Time to Kill "now imagine she's white".

Crimes should not be treated differently because of someone's ethnicity. 

Offline poochy

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There is no way that a terrorism charge should get you anymore serious penalty than mass murder does, so call it Terrorism, or a hate crime or whatever, it's all of those things to somebody, but in the end, charge him with whatever best gets him locked up and keep him there.  Has there been any kind of news on what type of firearm he used?

Offline JMT

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No there hasn't been.  I have real trouble believing he got his hands on an AK47, but the lack of a correction speaks to that being a real possibility.

Offline cybercoma

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A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.
That's a feature of the system. The courts take the time to hear all arguments and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people are guilty in order to limit as much as possible their ability to make mistakes. Context matters and while this seems cut and dried, everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense. That becomes especially important if you're charged with a crime and it's questionable, so those values are hard-baked into the system.

Offline cybercoma

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I don't understand why it would be difficult to prove.
For a terrorism charge they have to prove intent, which can be incredibly difficult in itself to prove.

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In Canada, section 83.01 of the Criminal Code[1] defines terrorism as an act committed "in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause" with the intention of intimidating the public "…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act."

Link: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/victim/rr09_6/p3.html

So we have a number of tricky elements here. They need to first establish that the crime was political, religious, or ideological in its purpose. They then have to establish that he intended to intimidate the public, as oppose to just killing Muslims for the express purpose of killing Muslims (which would be a hate crime and not terrorism). The law goes further though, it's not just intimidation, but intimidation with the express purpose of making the public feel insecure (including economic security [thanks Harper /s]) or for the purpose of forcing the government (or an organization) to do something or to stop doing something.

That's a lot of intent and purpose that you have to build a case around for terrorism. These are very difficult things to prove. Even when you have a number of things built up, you have to convince a jury that these intents and purposes are beyond any doubt whatsoever. If at any point there's reason to believe that those intents and purposes are not there, then it cannot be terrorism.

So what do they do? They peg him with murder. All they have to prove is that he intended to murder people and that he actually carried it out. That's FAR easier to prove. And with so many cases of murder and a lot more of attempted murder, those charges are almost certainly going to stick.

Legal definitions are different from scholarly and even common dictionary definitions. Make no mistake about it, this was an act of terrorism and should be called terrorism, but legal proof is a very different benchmark from editorial proof.

Offline Blueblood

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A problem with this will be the lawyers drawing this mess out and soaking the taxpayers and courts time.
That's a feature of the system. The courts take the time to hear all arguments and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people are guilty in order to limit as much as possible their ability to make mistakes. Context matters and while this seems cut and dried, everyone is entitled to a rigorous legal defense. That becomes especially important if you're charged with a crime and it's questionable, so those values are hard-baked into the system.

There's no arguement that it's a feature of the system and that's his right, however at one point when should a lawyer go to their client "your guilty, and it's time to face the music". My issue is with some legal defenses becoming so outlandish and time consuming that it flirts with interfering in the administration of justice and puts a large cost on society.

Offline Peter F

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I don't know what the point of charging this individual with terrorism would be. Or Hate for that matter.  There is an actual reason to have specific laws. There is a reason for the terrorism laws and they aren't to simply pile on to other charges for other specific crimes.  One isn't charged for the lesser crime when there is already existing a greater charge.
We could conceivably charge him 6 times over for assault; assault with a deadly weapon; reckless endangerment; trespass; Hate; terrorism; improper storage of a fire-arm etc etc.     There is almost an aspect of charging the accused twice for the same crime: Murder charge x 6 for killing the people and terrorism charge x 1 (6?) for killing the people.
As mentioned before (possibly elsewhere - I forget) If he had been part of a group that planned and arranged this then Yes certainly terrorism charge for him and his compatriots but Mostly for his compatriots who actually never killed anyone. But there is no one else involved .   For that matter it has yet to be shown that Bissonnette was indeed the one who did the shooting!  All we know for sure is that the police picked him up far from the crime scene and that he confessed, and I'm not even sure he actually did that.   But then thats why police gather evidence.
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