What are the odds that two men suspected of beheading their partners and dismembering their bodies would be arrested about three kilometres apart on the same day, and that they would end up jailed in the same cellblock for murders that were committed on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean?
Luka Rocco Magnotta — perhaps Canada’s most notorious accused killer since Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka went to trial — spent nearly 24 hours incarcerated only a few metres away from a Turkish man, Orhan S., who is accused of tossing the remains of wife Semanur — including her severed head — into a courtyard as police, neighbours and some of their young children watched in horror.
Lin Jun’s Chinese friends have denied that the Concordia University computer-science student had been in a relationship with Mr. Magnotta, although many in Montreal believe otherwise.
Orhan’s wife’s offence was said to be that she had angered her husband by arguing with him after she discovered that he had fathered two children with an Iranian woman.
Murder is murder. But judging by the attention that the beheadings have attracted around the world, there is something particularly terrifying and, to be truthful, morbidly fascinating about such crimes.
Deaths by beheading are no less horrifying or revolting when carried out by states. This method of execution is used fairly commonly for capital crimes in Saudi Arabia such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy and apostasy. The number of prisoners who die by the sword every year in the sheikdom has been as high as 153 in recent times.
Beheading is also the way the Taliban and tribal elders in parts of southern Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas still mete out punishment for murder and rape, and for what are often loose interpretations of adultery or moral turpitude.
Mr. Magnotta is accused of making a snuff film of Lin Jun’s death and posting it on the Internet. In their own perverse way, the Saudis and the Taliban do much the same thing. Beheadings in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan are grotesque public events held in squares or stadiums where some among the huge crowds of cheering men make homemade videos that circulate on the web.
Lest we become overly self-righteous because European and North American governments do not carry out such barbaric punishments, it must be remembered that beheadings using swords or axes were often turned into spectacles for the entertainment of the masses in Europe for hundreds of years after the Renaissance and for decades after the supposed Age of Enlightenment.
All this is not intended as a history lesson, but only to point out that death by beheading has always attracted a huge amount of attention.
Mr. Magnotta is in solitary confinement at Berlin’s fortress-like Moabit Prison. The self-styled porno star awaits a complicated extradition process. No matter how long those formalities take, they inevitably will lead to his return to Canada where he will undergo a psychiatric assessment before facing at least five charges, including murder.
Orhan, described by relatives as suffering from schizophrenia, already has admitted that he beheaded his wife. He is now in a mental hospital. There has been rampant speculation in Germany that he is so seriously mentally ill that he will be found not guilty by reason of insanity and will spend the rest of his life in a closely guarded facility for the criminally insane.
Given the depravity of the alleged crimes attributed to Mr. Magnotta — which include cannibalism and mailing body parts to addresses in Ottawa and Vancouver — he and his old cellblock mate from Berlin could face identical futures. Courtesy of: