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Man found not guilty in relation to arson of former Quebec City mosque leader's car

A Quebec City man has been found not guilty in relation to the torching of a car that belonged to the former head of the local mosque where last year's deadly shooting took place.

A 12-person jury found Marc Gagnon, 45, not guilty of arson on Saturday.

Gagnon, who didn't set the fire himself, was suspected of "helping and encouraging" another man to commit the act.

That second man, Mathieu Bilodeau, pleaded guilty in February to setting four fires in the city's Sainte-Foy neighbourhood last summer, including one to the car of Mohamed Labidi.

The former president of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, Labidi's car was set alight outside of his home on Aug. 6.

The incident renewed fears within the city's Muslim community, which was still grappling with the shooting that left six men dead at the local mosque.

At the time of his arrest, police accused Gagnon of being motivated by hate.

Mohamed Labidi (pictured here in April) was president of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre when his car was set on fire outside his home in Quebec City. (Jean-Simon Fabien/Radio-Canada)

Bilodeau, who set the fire with a Molotov cocktail, was sentenced to 12 months in jail. He was released last month after serving his time.

At the time of the incident, Bilodeau's lawyer argued her client has an intellectual disability, and she said he had been encouraged to set the fires by someone else.

Labidi, who was in the courtroom when the verdict in Gagnon's case was read out, said he was disappointed.

"We've followed the case from start to finish and I really feel like he's guilty. Mathieu Bilodeau couldn't have done anything without an accomplice," Labidi told reporters outside the courthouse.

"I was disappointed that the members of the jury didn't understand that element of the story, but we respect their verdict."

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