Luka Magnotta's lawyers want public banned from hearing
Published Monday, March 11, 2013 8:11AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 11, 2013 10:15PM EDT
Luka Rocco Magnotta, shackled and wearing all-white, appeared in a Montreal court Monday for a preliminary hearing in his trial on a slew of charges related to a grisly murder that saw body parts mailed to government offices and schools last year.
Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lin Jun, a Chinese born national who was studying engineering in Montreal last year. Lin's father, Daran, was in the courtroom, accompanied by a translator.
Also in the courtroom were two young females who appeared to know Magnotta.
One said she became friends with him when they modelled together in the past. The other was the only person Magnotta made eye contact with during the hearing. They later waved goodbye to each other.
Prosecutors are presenting evidence this week in an attempt to demonstrate they have enough material to proceed to trial.
A publication ban is typically put in place for preliminary hearings, but Magnotta’s lawyers are asking the court to significantly increase privacy restrictions to ban reporters and observers from the courtroom entirely.
The defence has said the request stems from Magnotta's past medical and personal history, saying “the ends of justice will be best served by doing so.” No further details have been provided.
Outside the courthouse, media lawyer Mark Bantey argued against the defence’s request.
“The open court principle is a hallmark of our democratic society and it should be respected,” he said.
The court will decide on the ban on Tuesday.
In addition to first-degree murder, Magnotta faces the following charges:
- Committing an indignity to a body;
- Publishing obscene material;
- Criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament;
- Mailing obscene and indecent material.
Magnotta has previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and chosen trial by jury and judge.
Some of Lin's severed body parts were mailed to the Ottawa offices of the Conservative and Liberal parties, and to two Vancouver schools.
More remains were also found at a Montreal park.
The Chinese government, through its consulate general in Montreal, is also following the proceedings closely.
"We have been paying close attention and tracking the latest developments in the case, and kept in close contact with Canadian police," said a statement from a spokesperson at the consulate.
"Canadian judiciary will formally begin the trial of the perpetrators, and we hope that the perpetrator will receive adequate/fair judgment, to uphold justice and bring a comforting result to the victim."
Magnotta's case made worldwide headlines after he fled the country last year, sparking a massive international manhunt. He was eventually tracked down in Germany where he was arrested, then returned to Canada.
Magnotta, originally from Ontario, has been described as a low-budget porn actor. He was born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman before changing his name in 2006.
Quebec Court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman will hear the case over the next two weeks. If it proceeds to trial, a different judge from Quebec Superior Court will hear the case.
With a report from CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian