Man charged in Quebec mosque shooting to appear next on March 30

Security was tight for a brief court appearance for the accused in the Quebec City mosque shooting Tuesday morning.

Alexandre Bissonnette in court briefly, wearing red T-shirt, eyes on his lawyer and judge

A security guard, left, watches Alexandre Bissonnette as he walks out of a transport bus at the courthouse Tuesday in Quebec City. (Jean-Vincent Verville/Canadian Press)

Security was tight during a brief, but packed court appearance for the accused in the Quebec City mosque shooting Tuesday morning.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, who was charged Jan. 30 in connection with the attack that killed six men and wounded 19 others, appeared as the Crown handed over evidence from the police investigation to his defence lawyer, Jean Petit.

The court also set a bail hearing for March 30.

Bissonnette faces six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm.

Wearing a red hockey T-shirt, he was hunched over, his eyes on the ground, when he entered the courtroom.

But unlike during his first appearance back in January, he looked up and surveyed the audience briefly. During the proceedings, he kept his eyes on his lawyer and the judge.

About 60 people packed the room for the short appearance.

Everyone going into the court — lawyers, journalists and members of the public — had to show identification before entering the courtroom. They also had to pass through metal detectors and were frisked.

Quebec Court Justice Jean-Louis Lemay also granted a publication ban on all the elements of the investigation that will be presented going forward.

'My duty to be here'

Mohamed Labidi, the vice-president of the Quebec City mosque where the shooting took place, said he felt he needed to be at Bissonnette's appearance as part of the mourning process.

"It's my duty to be here. I consider [the victims] all brothers, and I should represent them," he said. 

He said he has faith in the court system and believes justice will be served.
Mohamed Labidi, the vice-president of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, said it was difficult to be at Alexandre Bissonnette's hearing, but he felt he had to attend. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Labidi is calling on provincial and federal governments to crack down on suspected hate crimes, such as the one that took place in Montreal early Tuesday morning.

"There are many people afraid to go to mosque [to pray]. It's up to our governments to do what has to be done to reassure the Muslim population."

Imam Hassan Guillet, whose remarks at the funeral for three of the shooting victims were shared around the world, said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak it will take more than just prosecuting the alleged shooter to fix the issues that led to the attack.

"No, the problem will not be solved. It's not an individual, we have a problem as a society," he said, reiterating the idea from his eulogy that Bissonnette was a victim of the political climate in Quebec. 

Guillet said he wants to make sure an attack like the one in Quebec City never happens again.

"The best way to make sure this crime is the last crime of this category is to understand what happened and why it happened."

With files from CBC's Catou MacKinnon, Radio-Canada's Alexandra Duval