A Montreal judge today rejected a request to ban the press and public from the pre-trial hearing of Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student, eating parts of the corpse, and posting an online video of the grisly crime.
But Quebec Court Judge Lori-Renée Weitzman left intact the customary ban on publication of evidence brought forward in preliminary hearings.
In the hearing, prosecutors will seek to persuade the court they have enough evidence against small-time porn actor Magnotta for the case to go to trial.
In an unusual request, Magnotta’s lawyer had asked the judge to exclude reporters and the public from the proceedings entirely, arguing this would prevent leaks of the evidence and guarantee Magnotta’s right to a fair trial.
Weitzman said her ruling took into account the competing rights of freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial and she believed journalists would abide by the publication restrictions.
She said she would revisit the defence’s request if necessary.
The killing of Chinese student Jun Lin in the early summer of 2012 shocked Canadians and grabbed headlines around the world, sparking an international manhunt that led to Magnotta’s arrest in Germany last June.
A self-styled porn actor, model and gay escort with an extensive online presence, Magnotta, 30, is accused of killing Lin, a student in Montreal, and of posting a video on the Internet of the stabbing death, and of himself defiling the body and eating parts of it.
Lin’s hands and feet were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver. His torso was found stuffed into a suitcase in a pile of garbage behind Magnotta’s Montreal apartment, and his head was later discovered in a nearby park.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder, indignities to a body, and publishing obscene materials.
Magnotta sat in a glass box on Tuesday, the second day of the hearings. He wore a white T-shirt and purple pants and faced the front of the room, closing his eyes occasionally.
Lin’s family flew to Montreal from China for the hearing and his father, Diran Lin, sat silently in the back row of the courtroom.