Canadian dismemberment trial begins
Montreal — The judge hearing the case of a Canadian man accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing the body parts to schools and political parties told a jury the defendant admits he killed the student, but the jury must determine his mental fitness at the time.
Luka Magnotta, who faces five charges in connection with the 2012 slaying of 33-year-old engineering student Jun Lin, appeared before a jury and Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer on Monday for the first day of the trial. Magnotta, 32, wearing a gray sweater, dark pants and dark-rimmed glasses, pleaded not guilty to all charges as he stood behind a metal-and-glass enclosure.
Magnotta, who also pleaded not guilty in a 2012 preliminary hearing, is accused of posting a video online that shows him stabbing and having sex with the dismembered corpse. His defense is expected to claim that he was insane as it fights a murder charge and four others: committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material.
The case quickly gained international notoriety after a package containing a severed foot was found at the headquarters of Canada’s ruling Conservative Party in May 2012. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, in a package addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada.
Lin’s torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump outside Magnotta’s apartment building in Montreal. About a week later, the missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver.
Magnotta eventually was arrested in Berlin after an international manhunt.
In his opening remarks, prosecutor Louis Bouthillier warned the jury to expect “graphic” and “gruesome” evidence, including the video and photographs of Lin’s dismembered body.
Bouthillier said he will demonstrate Magnotta planned Lin’s killing up to six months in advance, and laid out those plans in an email to a London journalist who will testify later in the trial.
“It is our position that this email makes it clear that Mr. Magnotta was planning to kill a human being and that he was going to make a movie of that killing,” he said.
The trial is expected to last between six and eight weeks.
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