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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First witness takes stand at Luka Magnotta preliminary hearing

A Montreal police investigator took the stand Tuesday at the preliminary hearing of Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man accused of killing and dismembering a Chinese student 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. As he was on Monday, Lin's father Daran was in the courtroom Tuesday, accompanied by a translator.
Michel Bourque, a major crimes investigator and the lead detective in the case, is 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.
Alleged killer Luka Rocco Magnotta is seen in court in an artist drawing in Montreal, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. (Mike McLaughlin / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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.
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.
Bourque’s 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.

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