A Quebec judge is hearing arguments about whether video footage from the night of the deadly 2017 mosque shooting should be made public.
The footage could be presented as evidence during sentencing arguments for Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty in March to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder.
The Crown is categorically against having the videos released, saying it risks causing trauma to victims or instigating others to commit violence.
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“You have evidence as to the impact to victims following the public broadcasting of these images,” Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques told Judge François Huot Tuesday.
Jacques argued for a broadcast ban on the video, but said he is not opposed to the media describing the content of the videos.
A consortium of seven news organizations, including The Canadian Press, is arguing in favour of having the recordings released.
“A video is an expression in itself,” said the lawyer representing the consortium, Jean-François Côté.
“If journalists are allowed to broadcast parts of the video, then people can form their own ideas about the images they see and that’s fundamental.”
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Judge Huot also heard expert testimony from psychiatrist Dr. Cécile Rousseau.
“The trauma it would cause to surviving victims and families is great,” she told the court.
“If you want to destroy someone, you force them to watch a loved one being tortured or killed.”
She also warned that broadcasting the video could influence others to commit similar crimes or it could be used as propaganda by radical groups.
“If this video or these images go public – for the families, they are very, very anxious,” said Boufeldja Benabdallah, a spokesperson for the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre.
Sentencing arguments for the 28-year-old gunman are expected to begin Wednesday.
— with files from The Canadian Press.
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