The perpetrator of a ram truck attack that left 10 dead and 16 injured in April 2018 in central Toronto, was convicted of his actions Wednesday by a judge.
In a verdict read live on YouTube, magistrate Anne Molloy rejected the arguments of the lawyer for Alek Minassian, 28, who had pleaded not criminally responsible for his client, suffering from autism and mental retardation.
Alek Minassian, convicted of 10 murders and 16 attempts, now faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years, which will be determined at a later hearing in mid-March.
Minassian, who has suffered from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since childhood, admitted the facts and what was at stake in the verdict was whether he was aware of his actions at the time they took place.
Recalling that the accused had carefully planned his act for several weeks, Judge Molloy considered that he had “freely chosen the option which was morally wrong, being aware of the consequences it would have for himself” and his victims.
Judge Molloy refused to name the accused by name, stressing that he himself had indicated that he had launched this “horrible” attack, which aimed to “kill as many people as possible”, to gain global notoriety. He then tried to be shot by a police officer, who finally arrested him without violence.
Mr. Minassian’s lawyer, Boris Bytensky, relying on psychiatric expertise, argued that his client’s mental state, devoid of empathy and unable to discern right from wrong according to him, made him incapable of doing rational choices.
This is the first time in Canada that autism has been invoked to try to obtain a verdict of not criminally responsible, according to several jurists.
During the trial, prosecutor Joseph Callaghan considered that the TSA had not prevented the accused from making deliberate choices and from being aware that his actions were illegal and morally reprehensible.
Alek Minassian admitted to hiring a van on April 23, 2018 and killing eight women and two men, aged 22 to 94, and injuring 16 others in his murderous race.
The attack took place on a sunny spring Monday, early afternoon, in the North York neighborhood, near one of the busiest thoroughfares in Canada’s largest metropolis.
At the wheel of a white rental van, the accused, who lived in the northern suburbs of the city, had driven at high speed between the traffic lanes and sidewalks, targeting passers-by for about two kilometers.
Before taking action, he had published a misogynistic message on Facebook in which he assured: “The rebellion + Incel + has already started!”.
English abbreviation for “involuntarily celibate”, the movement “Incel” brings together men expressing, in particular on online forums, their contempt for women, responsible according to them for their sexual dissatisfaction.
Alek Minassian then told several experts during the investigation that his main motivation was the quest for notoriety and that invoking the Incel movement was above all a way to make people talk about him.
He has given different experts differing motivations to justify his act, ranging from anxiety before starting a new job, to wanting to become one of the biggest mass killers in history.