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Police are seen near a damaged van after it mounted a sidewalk and crashed into a number of pedestrians, in Toronto, in an April 23, 2018, file photo.

The Canadian Press

A man who killed 10 people when he drove a van into crowds of pedestrians on a busy Toronto sidewalk in 2018 has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, court heard Thursday.

Alek Minassian faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the attack on April 23, 2018. His trial is scheduled to begin in front of a judge, without a jury, in April.

Crown attorney John Rinaldi read out an agreed statement of facts between the prosecution and defence.

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“While driving the van in the said area, [Mr. Minassian] drove his van into, or otherwise struck, at least 26 people, 10 of those people were killed and 16 injured to various degrees,” Mr. Rinaldi said.

The 27-year-old was in court for a pretrial-motion hearing where his lawyer, Boris Bytensky, is fighting over the admissibility of a statement Mr. Minassian gave to a booking officer shortly after his arrest.

As part of a standard set of questions, the booking officer asked Mr. Minassian if he had any illnesses.

“Yes. I am a murdering piece of shit,” he said.

The defence concedes Mr. Minassian made that statement, but argues that Mr. Minassian’s charter rights – the right to remain silent – were violated.

Several victims and families of those who died in the attack were in the courtroom. Some wiped tears away and others stared at Mr. Minassian when the video showed him making that statement to police.

Mr. Minassian later told police in a lengthy interview after the attack that he carried it out in retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. He told a detective he was part of the “incel movement,” a fringe internet subculture that attracts males who are involuntarily celibate.

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Mr. Minassian told Detective Rob Thomas that he saw himself on the bottom rung of society as an incel, and wanted to be part of an “uprising” in an effort to change his societal status.

“This is the day of retribution,” Mr. Minassian told Det. Thomas. He also told the detective he had “accomplished” his mission.

Mr. Minassian confirmed that interview in court on Thursday, which will now form part of the agreed facts in the case.

The judge has said the case will turn on Mr. Minassian’s state of mind at the time of the attack, not whether he did it.

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