The man accused of murdering and dismembering a university student in Montreal will undergo in two months his preliminary hearing that could last nearly four weeks.
Luka Magnotta, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Concordia University engineering student Jun Lin. Magnotta is also charged with.committing an indignity to human remains; publishing and distributing obscene material; mailing obscene and indecent material; and criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.
Magnotta's hearing took place under tight security and a heavy media presence. Reporters began lining up two hours before the scheduled hearing, then went through a security check and packed into a small courtroom with 12 seats reserved for the public as well as an overflow room that broadcast the proceedings lasting about 35 minutes.
Magnotta, wearing black jeans, a black striped sweater and sporting handcuffs and leg shackles, remained impassive as lawyers discussed dates, witnesses and several legal and technical details for the pre-trial hearing scheduled to begin March 11, then go on for two weeks, and continue in June if necessary. Magnotta often kept his eyes closed, sometimes looking up at the judge or down at the floor, and didn't say a word to the court. He got up once near the end of the hearing to speak with his lawyer via the telephone in the glassed-in prisoner's box.
A publication ban was slapped on all evidence so most of what was said during the hearing can't be reported.
The crown indicated they'd have about 15 witnesses including four experts. Magnotta will have an English interpreter. The crown also said the investigation is still ongoing.
"If we are in touch or we get some new information or new evidence, you can be sure that we will make sure that we will transfer this information and this evidence to our colleagues in defence," crown spokesman Jean-Pascal Boucher told reporters.
One of the two crown prosecutors in the case, Hélène Di Salvo, has since been appointed as a Quebec Superior Court Justice and the remaining prosecutor will go it alone for now. Boucher said he doesn't believe this is a set back because Louis Bouthillier is a senior crown attorney with a lot of experience.
Boucher said they remain in contact with Lin's parents who have since returned to China after arriving in Montreal in June to bury their son.
Magnotta had already entered a not guilty plea and chose to be tried by judge and jury.
Lin's death occurred in May of last year. Some of his body parts were mailed to different places across the country including the headquarters of the Conservative and Liberal parties in Ottawa. A video of the alleged crimes was posted on the Internet. Magnotta was arrested in June in Berlin following an international manhunt.