MONTREAL—The owner of the website that posted a video showing the alleged killing of a Chinese exchange student by Luka Rocco Magnotta has been arrested in Edmonton and charged with corrupting morals.
Police said a year-long investigation that began shortly after the murder of Jun Lin in Montreal has led to the charge against Mark Marek, the 38-year-old operator of the bestgore.com websité.
Police allege that Marek, who also lists himself as a wedding photographer, an aficionado of nude photography and an underground website that revels in images of death and dismemberment, is guilty of a section of the Criminal Code that prohibits the publication or possession of obscene materials.
“It is alleged that Marek posted the video online in Edmonton, knowing the video that was sent to him by Luka Magnotta was depicting a real murder,” Edmonton Police Staff Sgt. Bill Clark said in a news release.
Police said more charges could be laid in the coming days.
Marek was sharply criticized in the wake of the murder for posting such horrific material on his website, which revels in images of death, accidents, war zones, diseases and sexual fetishes.
But in a response to a series of questions from the Toronto Star in May 2012, Marek explained that a website reader who is a lawyer in Montana first flagged the video to the Toronto Police after those who frequent the site were able to make a link to Magnotta.
“The authorities dismissed the report as not credible, believing it wasn’t real, but rather a film by a special effects team. As a result no action was taken,” Marek told the Star’s Wendy Gillis.
He added: “Members of Best Gore identified the perpetrator four days before the discovery of the torso in Montreal and the foot in Ottawa. Had the police not ignored the reports made at the time, they would have likely caught the perpetrator red-handed, while still in the apartment.”
It is unclear whether Marek had any indication that he was the subject of an ongoing investigation or that his arrest was imminent.
He first reported on the Best Gore website on July 12 that all of his computers, cameras and recording equipment had been seized by customs officers while he was entering the country in Vancouver.
“Custom officer at the Vancouver airport spent seven hours checking the laptop and storage devices for content and found nothing illegal, however all I have is his verbal confirmation,” Marek wrote, adding that he had been referred to an Edmonton police investigator for further questions.
He mused that having an MP3 player “could mean that I must be a terrorist plotting to bomb a school,” that illegal material would be loaded onto his computer, “or perhaps something more elaborate I can’t even fathom yet?”
On Tuesday, Marek wrote that he had spoken on the telephone with an Edmonton Police officer to arrange a meeting to explain why his computer equipment and other devices were confiscated.
“It didn’t sound like the detective was looking to have me sent to jail yet, but I can’t be sure of anything,” he said.
“It may sound strange, but at this point in my life, jail doesn’t sound all that unattractive. I have already done my part. The truth has been spilled and there ain’t no stopping it anymore.”
Staff Sgt. Bill Clark with the Edmonton homicide unit said the investigation was long and complex because Marek was “very elusive,” with no home address and had been out of the country.
“I can say that he’s a very different individual. He has some thoughts that a lot of our investigators were shaking their heads at.”
Officers have flown to Vancouver with warrants for Marek’s computer equipment. Clark said the suspect could face additional charges, including hate crime offences, related to other items posted on the website.
He described the site as racist and disturbing, with “violence above and beyond anything normal.” It’s also unsettlingly popular, with as many as 10 million viewers, said Clark.
He said he doesn’t think police have the authority to shut down the website unless Marek is convicted in court.