'Canadian psycho' goes to trial

Updated: 2013-03-09 07:57

(China Daily/Agencies)

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The trial of Luka Rocco Magnotta - accused of slaying and dismembering Chinese student Lin Jun in what is regarded as the most significant Canadian crime story in years - begins on Monday in Montreal.

The case made international headlines after the murder and lewd acts involving the victim's corpse were filmed by the killer and posted online.

Monday marks the start of a preliminary hearing, in which a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to prosecute.

'Canadian psycho' goes to trial

Luka Rocco Magnotta is led by Canadian police after being extradited from Germany in June. Magnotta faces first-degree murder and other charges, including committing indignities to a body and harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. [Provided to China Daily]

Magnotta faces first-degree murder and other charges, including committing indignities to a body and harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Police said the occasional porn actor and escort used an ice pick to stab Lin, his 33-year-old victim, in late May before carving up his body, sexually abusing the corpse, filming the act and posting the video online.

Days after the killing, Montreal police discovered the victim's torso in a suitcase by the trash outside an apartment along a busy highway.

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.

Arrested on June 4, 2012, in Germany and extradited after fleeing Canada, Magnotta has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyers said they will ask the judge to bar the public from his preliminary hearing, which is expected to last at least 10 days. It is rare for a preliminary hearing to be held behind closed doors.

If convicted, Magnotta faces life imprisonment.

His lawyers may argue against jailing him, claiming he has a history of mental illness. But legal experts suggested it would be a long shot.

Police said he was known to change his appearance by dying his hair or wearing wigs, and even disguising himself as a woman.

Psychiatrists have judged him from afar to be likely a psychopath, yet mentally fit to stand trial.

Born Eric Clinton Newman, he changed his name to Magnotta in 2006, after years of swapping aliases such as Vladimir Romanov, or Angel.

The media, however, crowned him "Canadian Psycho" because of the soundtrack from the movie American Psycho playing in the background as he allegedly butchered his victim.

For years Magnotta built a profile through blogs, escort adverts in which he searched online for sex partners and posted photographs showing himself as a model whose travels included Paris and other cities.

Pierre Bonhomme, a Canadian filmmaker who recalled a meeting with Magnotta in Toronto in 2007 or 2008, told the Ottawa Citizen it was a "creepy" experience that he quickly decided to escape from.

In his writings, Magnotta described being beaten and sexually abused while growing up in a Toronto suburb, as well as being a heavy drinker, drug-addicted and manic depressive.

In 2005 he was convicted for defrauding several retailers and with stealing $16,900 from a woman in Toronto, culminating in a suspended sentence and probation.

Magnotta's family still lives in the Toronto area but claimed to have lost contact with him some time ago.