A former porn actor dubbed the “Canadian Psycho” appeared in court on Monday for a hearing on whether a trial can proceed in the grisly murder and dismembering of a Chinese man.
Luka Rocco Magnotta, 30, made worldwide headlines last year after allegedly filming himself murdering his victim in May last year and performing lewd acts with the student’s body before posting the images online.
Magnotta, dressed in a white T-shirt and pants, arrived escorted by prison guards for the start of the preliminary hearing in Montreal.
He sat quietly in the prisoner’s box with his hands resting on his knees as his defense lawyers pressed the judge to bar the public from the hearing, which is expected to last at least 10 days.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and other charges, including committing indignities to a body and harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Police say the occasional gay porn actor and male prostitute used an ice pick to stab his 33-year-old victim, Lin Jun (林俊), before carving up his body, sexually abusing the corpse, filming the act and posting the video online.
Days after the killing, police discovered the victim’s torso in a suitcase by the trash outside an apartment along a busy highway in Montreal.
His severed hands and feet were sent through the mail to federal political parties in Ottawa and to two schools in Vancouver. The head was found in a Montreal park months later.
Lin’s family, who traveled to Canada from China last year following their son’s horrific death, have returned to watch the court case of a man they have branded “a devil.”
After listening to brief arguments, Judge Lori Renee Weitzman adjourned the proceedings until the next day when she is expected to announce her ruling on the defense’s request for a closed-door preliminary hearing, according to a prosecution spokesman.
Preliminary hearings are routinely covered by a temporary publication ban, but it is rare for them to be held behind closed doors, and the prosecutors in this case as well as lawyers for several Canadian media opposed the motion.
“Our argument is that the publication ban, which covers all the evidence, is more than sufficient to protect the rights of the accused to a fair trial and [so] there is no need to exclude the public and the journalists from the courtroom,” Mark Bantey, a lawyer representing local media, said outside the courthouse in downtown Montreal.
“It is one of hallmarks of democracy that the public be able to attend trials, report on them and criticize the proceedings,” he said.