Friday, June 22, 2012

Preliminary hearing set for March 11, 2013

MONTREAL – As Luka Rocco Magnotta looked on from behind a glassed-in prisoner’s box – and while the parents of the man he is accused of murdering watched via video hookup from another room at the Montreal courthouse – Magnotta’s new lawyer announced Wednesday his defence team was electing for a trial by judge and jury.
Toronto attorney Luc Leclair did not, however, ask for a psychiatric evaluation, as had been expected. Originally scheduled to appear via video conference to lessen security concerns, Magnotta instead appeared in court at the defence team’s request, a spokesman for the prosecution said.
Wearing a plaid shirt, dark pants and handcuffs, Magnotta remained silent throughout the proceedings.
In an appearance lasting less than 10 minutes, the date of March 11, 2013, was set for the start of the preliminary hearing in his case, a delay the prosecution classified as a reasonable lapse given the court’s workload. The preliminary hearing is expected to last 10 days. There will be a pre-preliminary hearing Jan. 9.
In a brief statement to the Quebec Court judge, Toronto lawyer Luc Leclair said he had some serious concerns “about the institution Mr. Magnotta is staying at. ... I want to express my concerns for his physical well-being and his mental well-being.” Magnotta is in solitary confinement at the Rivière des Prairies detention centre.
In particular, Leclair wanted to ensure Magnotta would receive his medication. The prosecution requested a publication ban on the form of medications Magnotta was receiving, to which the judge agreed.
Contrary to intimations Leclair’s co-counsel Pierre Panoccio made on Tuesday, no request was made for a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Magnotta could be considered not criminally responsible because of his mental state.
In a statement following the court appearance, Leclair thanked the psychiatrist who aided Magnotta while he was being held in a Berlin prison, and said his client accepted extradition because he “wanted to come back to Montreal, he trusts the Canadian judicial system.”
Lawyer Jean Dury was also part of Magnotta’s defence team.
Magnotta is suspected of killing and dismembering 33-year-old Lin Jun in Magnotta’s Snowdon apartment on the night of May 24 to 25, posting video of the crime on the Internet and mailing body parts to four locations across Canada. He was captured by police in Berlin on June 4, and returned to Montreal amid tight security in a Canadian Air Force plane Monday evening.
LIN’s parents travelled to Montreal in early June to retrieve their son. The prosecution spoke to them today, and will keep them updated throughout Magnotta’s court case, a spokesman for the prosecution said.
rbruemmer@montrealgazette.com

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