'Canadian psycho' pleads not guilty

2012-06-20 07:37

Montreal - A suspect dubbed the 'Canadian psycho' pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to killing and dismembering a Chinese student in Montreal, in a case that has seized worldwide attention.

Luka Rocco Magnotta pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and four other charges including committing indignities to a body, Crown Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier told reporters at the Montreal courthouse, where the suspect appeared via a video link.

The slightly built 29-year-old wore a grey hooded sweatshirt and was flanked by police officers. He appeared passive during his arraignment from a police detention centre where he is being held.

Authorities said they did not want to bring him to the courthouse, for safety and logistical reasons.

After the hearing he was expected to be transferred to a prison to undergo psychiatric evaluation before appearing, via video link, before the court again on Thursday.

His case has caused shock, particularly on the internet, for the chilling and graphic nature of the crimes which police believe Magnotta committed and then publicised.

Sexual relationship

Magnotta, who worked as an occasional porn actor and an escort, is alleged to have used an ice pick to stab Lin Jun - a Chinese student at Montreal's Concordia University - sometime between 24-25 May.

The suspect is thought to have then carved up the victim's body, sexually abused the corpse and filmed the act, before posting the video on the internet.

The two men are believed to have had a sexual relationship at one point.

On 29 May, police in Montreal discovered Lin's torso in a suitcase by the trash outside an apartment along a busy highway.

The victim's severed hands and feet were then discovered to have been sent through the mail to federal Conservative and Liberal parties in Ottawa and to two schools in Vancouver.

Lin's head is still missing, and investigators are interrogating Magnotta on its possible whereabouts, in an effort to bring closure to Lin's grieving family, who arrived in Montreal two weeks ago to meet with officials.

In addition to facing charges of murder and committing indignities to a body, Magnotta was formally charged with publishing and mailing obscene material and criminally harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of parliament.

Minimal media frenzy

Magnotta initially fled Montreal for Paris after the killing, prompting Interpol to issue a global alert. He quickly became Canada's most wanted suspect.

On 4 June, he was arrested in a cyber cafe in Berlin, after being spotted reading about himself on the internet.

Magnotta's return to Montreal aboard a military jet late on Monday was carefully orchestrated to minimize a media frenzy.

After landing in Mirabel, north of Montreal at an airport normally used for cargo trafffic, a shackled Magnotta was met by military officials, border guards and police, with a tactical police officer nearby clutching a gun.

Montreal police spokesperson Ian Lafreniere said Magnotta was flown back on a military jet because commercial airlines would not accept the homicide suspect on board.

"To be honest with you, no companies were willing to do so," he said, adding that authorities preferred to draw as little attention as possible.