Skurka's Spin: Why was Magnotta transported on a Canadian military plane?
Steven Skurka, CTV legal analyst, appears in this file photo.
Published Monday, June 25, 2012 7:44AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 26, 2012 6:10AM EDT
Why was Luka Rocco Magnotta transported to Canada on a Canadian military plane?
The explanation by the Montreal police that the Canadian airlines flying from Berlin refused to accept Magnotta as a passenger is entirely accurate. The sordid nature of the allegations against Magnotta was sufficiently notorious that the airlines were likely concerned that his presence would alarm other passengers sharing the flight.
There were legitimate security concerns for the police to consider as well. Magnotta's face was instantly recognizable as a result of his case's international profile. He would be handcuffed on the plane. The list of passengers on a commercial flight might include someone with a desire to attack Magnotta as a vigilante or in a fit of anger. It was also not inconceivable that a fellow passenger might be aligned with Magnotta and attempt to rescue him.
It is not unprecedented for the police in Canada to transfer prisoners on RCMP airplanes. I was advised that Karla Homolka and Clifford Olsen were transported in such a manner. The unique feature of the Magnotta case was that he was transported beyond the borders of Canada.
Police officials were required to act quickly when the German government extradited Magnotta. The officers involved didn't have the luxury of attempting to patiently sort out the issue of the Canadian transfer. There would have been public outrage if the flight from Berlin to Montreal was delayed.
In the end, Canadian police made a viable and responsible decision. Magnotta was brought back to Canada on a military plane. His transfer occurred without disruption or difficulty. He was able to retain counsel and has entered the court process in this country after an initial video remand.
From this point forward Magnotta will be treated similarly to any defendant charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and his preliminary hearing has been scheduled. It will take place in March of 2013.
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