MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Canadian judge rejected on Tuesday a request to ban the press and public from the pre-trial hearing of a Montreal man accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student, eating parts of the corpse and posting an online video of the grisly crime.
But Quebec court Judge Lori Renee Weitzman left intact the customary ban on publication of evidence brought forward in such preliminary hearings.
In the hearing, prosecutors will seek to persuade the court in Montreal that they have enough evidence against small-time porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta for the case to go to trial.
In an unusual request, Magnotta’s lawyer had asked the judge to exclude reporters and the public from the proceedings entirely, arguing that this would prevent leaks of the evidence and guarantee Magnotta’s right to a fair trial.
Weitzman said her ruling took into account the competing rights of freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial and she believed journalists would abide by the publication restrictions.
She said she would revisit the defense’s request if necessary.
The killing of Chinese student Jun Lin in the early summer of 2012 shocked Canadians and grabbed headlines around the world, sparking an international manhunt that led to Magnotta’s arrest in Germany last June.
A self-styled porn actor, model and gay escort with an extensive online presence, Magnotta, 30, is accused of killing Lin, a student in Montreal, posting a video on the Internet of the stabbing death and defiling the body and eating parts of it.
Lin’s hands and feet were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver. His torso was found stuffed into a suitcase in a pile of garbage behind Magnotta’s Montreal apartment, and his head was later discovered in a nearby park.
Lin’s family flew to Montreal from China for the hearing and his father, Diran Lin, sat silently in the back row of the courtroom on Tuesday for part of the session.
“(He’s here) to honor his son, to witness how our judicial system works,” the family’s lawyer, Daniel Urbas, told reporters.
“He believes that he trusted our society with his son once and he wants to see whether and how he can trust our society with the judicial process that’s going to lead to some resolution of the criminal charges related to his son’s death.”
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder, indignities to a body and publishing obscene materials.
Magnotta sat in a glass box on Tuesday, the second day of the hearings. He wore a white T-shirt and purple pants and faced the front of the room, closing his eyes occasionally.
Writing by Louise Egan; Editing by Janet Guttsman, Peter Galloway and Eric Walsh