MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Canadian porn actor accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student then posting a video online of him eating part of the body appeared in court on Monday as his lawyers sought to close pre-trial proceedings to the press and public.
Luka Rocco Magnotta, deported from Germany after an international manhunt, observed the hearing from a glass enclosure in the packed Montreal court room. During two to three weeks of proceedings, prosecutors will outline the case against Magnotta, 30, and seek to persuade a judge they have enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Appearing for the first time since soon after his June arrest, Magnotta wore a white T-shirt and light trousers, leaning back in his chair as he listened to legal arguments.
Also in the courtroom was Diran Lin, father of victim Jun Lin, whose dismembered body parts were mailed to schools and political parties in the Canadian capital Ottawa and the Pacific city Vancouver in a crime that shocked Canada and gained international notoriety.
Magnotta, who also worked as a gay escort, is accused of first-degree murder, interfering with a dead body and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
“This is the worst thing a family can endure. We are empty,” the Journal de Montreal quoted Diran Lin as saying in an interview ahead of the hearing. “We had so much hope for Jun Lin.”
Police say the video, which they believe is genuine, showed a man stabbing his victim to death before dismembering the corpse and then eating part of the body.
Lin’s hands and feet were mailed in May to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and to schools in Vancouver. His torso was found in a pile of garbage behind Magnotta’s Montreal apartment, and his head was discovered in a Montreal park in July. Lin was a student at Concordia University in Montreal.
Initial arguments revolved around an unusual defense request to exclude the public and the media. The court imposed a publication ban on the evidence presented and said it would decide on Tuesday on whether to ban the public and the media.
“That publication ban which covers all the evidence is more than sufficient to protect the rights of the accused to a fair trial, and there is no need to exclude the public from the courtroom, and the journalists,” Mark Bantey, lawyer for media outlets seeking continued access, told reporters.
Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman