The father of a slain Chinese exchange student broke down in tears and fell into the arms of his translator Tuesday in a Montreal courtroom, as he heard evidence in the preliminary hearing of Luka Magnotta.

A Montreal police investigator was the first to take the stand during Magnotta’s hearing, but the evidence is under a publication ban.

Magnotta is accused of killing and dismembering Chinese student Lin Jun last year.

He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lin, a Chinese-born national who was studying engineering in Montreal.

Michel Bourque, a major crimes investigator and the lead detective in the case, was the first witness to speak at the proceedings. However, the details of his testimony cannot be revealed as they are subject to a publication ban.

Bourque’s testimony, given in French, was translated by an interpreter into English for Magnotta, who sat handcuffed and shackled in the courtroom.

“First witness to be called is primary investigator from Montreal Police - #Magnotta often had his eyes fixated on him,” CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian tweeted from inside the courtroom.

Later, as crime-scene technician Caroline Simoneau took the stand, Lin's father Daran became emotional and left the courtroom in tears. His translator, who has been accompanying him to court, was with him as he left.

A preliminary hearing is held so evidence in the case can be presented and a judge can decide whether it is sufficient to proceed to trial. The hearing is expected to last four weeks.

The witnesses’ testimony followed a ruling by the presiding judge that media and the public are allowed to attend the hearing. The defence had argued that, with the case garnering international media interest and the widespread reporting of the case online, Magnotta’s right to a fair trial could be compromised.

Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman disagreed, and also dismissed a defence request to broaden the terms of the publication ban. Publication bans are typically imposed for preliminary hearings.

“I don’t think it’s the court’s role to tell the media what specific elements can be published and cannot be published,” Mark Bantey, a lawyer representing the media at the hearing, told reporters. “The code is clear, it refers to evidence, and that is sufficient.”

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, who chose to be tried by a judge and jury, has previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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.

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.

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Tania Krywiak and files from the Canadian Press