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Murder trial for Alek Minassian, man accused in Toronto van attack, to get underway

Last Updated Nov 10, 2020 at 7:30 am MST

Alek Minassian, top, is seen during a police interview in a still frame taken from handout video footage. Hours after driving a rented van down a busy Toronto sidewalk killing 10 people and injuring 16 others, Alek Minassian described himself to police as a 25-year-old virgin seeking retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. The transcript and video of the police interview were released Friday following a successful legal challenge by several media organizations, including The Canadian Press, to have the publication ban lifted. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Superior Court of Justice, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

TORONTO — The trial for the man who killed 10 people and hurt 16 others after driving a van down a Toronto sidewalk is set to get underway today.

Alek Minassian, 28, of Richmond Hill, Ont., faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

He has admitted in court to planning and carrying out the attack on April 23, 2018.

The judge has said the case will turn on Minassian’s state of mind at the time.

He is expected to raise a defence of being not criminally responsible for his actions that day.

Minassian told a detective just hours after the incident that he carried out the attack as retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn’t have sex with him.

In a police interview that was made public, Minassian told the detective he had found solace in an online community for so-called “incels,” men who were involuntarily celibate.

Minassian explained to the detective that incels were at the bottom rung of society, below so-called Chads, who are alpha males who slept with women, who are known as Staceys.

He said the Chads had to be killed in order to force the Staceys to have sex with men like him, the incels.

A mass attack would cause confusion in the world and allow the incels to rearrange the world order and come out on top, he told the detective.

Minassian’s trial will take place in front of a judge, Justice Anne Molloy, without a jury — a rarity for first-degree murder trials.

The defence sought to have the case moved out of Toronto, arguing Minassian wouldn’t receive a fair trial with a jury pool of locals.

After negotiations, all sides agreed to proceed by way of a judge alone, thereby keeping the trial in Toronto.

The trial was set to begin in February, but difficulties getting Minassian’s psychological and medical records pushed it back to April.

The pandemic then shuttered courts, pushing the trial back to November.

With recent COVID-19 restrictions in place during the pandemic’s second wave, court opted for a trial on the Zoom videoconference software.

The trial will not be available to the public online, but anyone can watch a broadcast of the trial at a few rooms reserved at the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press