Update: Berlin police confirm Magnotta’s arrest

The Canadian Press
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MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta, Canada’s most-wanted fugitive, was arrested in Berlin on Monday after being spotted reading news reports about himself on the Internet.

His capture came less than a week after international police launched a worldwide manhunt for the alleged killer from Montreal.

A Berlin police spokesman told The Canadian Press that Magnotta was nabbed at about 2 p.m. local time at an Internet cafe in the German capital. Montreal police later confirmed his arrest.


Magnotta, 29, is facing five charges in Montreal, including first-degree murder, in the brutal slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin, a Chinese national who was studying at Concordia University.

Lin’s torso was found stuffed inside a suitcase on a Montreal curb outside Magnotta’s apartment building last Tuesday. Other body parts, including a hand and foot, were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa.

Montreal police said Magnotta fled Canada for France about a day after Lin’s death, which is believed to have occurred sometime overnight between May 24 and May 25.

Police confirmed Magnotta was seen in Paris over the weekend.

On Monday, authorities in Berlin — more than 1,000 kilometres from Paris — caught up with the fugitive.

Berlin police were called into an Internet cafe on a tip after someone recognized Magnotta.

They said Magnotta initially tried giving false names but then conceded “OK, you got me.”

“He did not resist,” Chief-Supt. Stefan Redlich said in a phone interview.

“He was arrested without a fight.”

The owner of the cafe, in Berlin’s working-class Neukoelln district, told The Associated Press that Magnotta had come in to read news reports about himself when one of his employees recognized him.

“A colleague recognized him from his photo, because he’d just read the newspaper,” said the owner, who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name.

He said the police happened to be outside at the time, and the employee alerted them.

Redlich said Magnotta was taken to a prison and is expected to see a judge on Tuesday. He said German federal police will contact Canadian authorities to determine how to proceed with Magnotta’s extradition.

The grisly case has grabbed significant international attention and media abroad have dubbed Magnotta the “Canadian Psycho,” “the Canadian Cannibal” and the “Carver from Montreal.”

Interpol had issued an international alert for Magnotta, who was born Eric Clinton Newman and has also used the name Vladimir Romanov.

Magnotta is also facing other charges in Canada, including corrupting morals; causing an indignity to a body; using the mail system to deliver “obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous” material; and harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Some of the charges come in connection with an incident that saw a package containing a severed foot delivered to the Conservative party’s Ottawa headquarters. A parcel containing a hand was also addressed to the Liberal party, but it was intercepted by Canada Post workers before delivery.

Harper commended police on Monday for catching Magnotta.

“Well, I’m obviously pleased that the suspect has been arrested, and I just want to congratulate the police forces on their good work,” the prime minister said in London, where he is attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Back in Montreal, Lin’s former boss said Monday that there’s no way to bring the 33-year-old back, but he’s glad the suspect has been arrested.

“I feel like there is justice — it does exist,” said Kankan Huang, owner of a convenience store where the computer-science student worked part-time as a cashier since last August.

“This guy is going to pay (for) what he did.”

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said Monday that photos of Magnotta released worldwide played a big role in his capture.

”He used the web to glorify himself but it was also the web that helped in his arrest,” Lafreniere told a news conference.

Lafreniere did not have an exact timeline for Magnotta’s return to Canada but acknowledged there could be delays.

He said it is too early to say whether the force will send anyone to Berlin.

Police say Lin’s gruesome death, which has shocked people in Canada and around the world, was videotaped and posted online.

In the video, a person repeatedly stabbed a young man with an ice pick. The killer dismembered the corpse and appeared to commit sexual and cannibalistic acts on it.

Police allege the depraved events took place in Magnotta’s cramped bachelor apartment, which he rented for $490 per month in a gritty building in west-end Montreal.

The day after Lin’s torso was found locked in a suitcase, the building’s tenants were trying to deal with the horrific crime in their midst. Others had to clean up the ghastly mess in blood-soaked Apartment 208.

Police had left behind a pink bed sheet, a purple shower curtain and a mattress, all of which appeared to be stained with blood.

A liquid, which looked like dried blood, had pooled at the bottom of the unit’s small refrigerator. A few tiny bits of what appeared to be flesh were still stuck to the inside walls of the appliance.

Magnotta, who has worked as a model and a low-budget porn actor, has maintained a prolific presence in the darkest corners of the Internet.

For nearly two years, he has been a notorious figure among animal-rights activists who have been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and then posted videos of the acts online.

The native of Scarborough, Ont., has also been romantically linked to sex-killer Karla Homolka — a rumour he has vehemently repudiated and others have shrugged off.

A Facebook page belonging to a self-described model with the same name lists a variety of personal heroes. They include pop star Madonna and two Russian leaders: Vladimir Putin and Joseph Stalin.

Magnotta has also been an avid author on the Internet.

One online article he wrote in 2009 was titled: “How to Completely Disappear and Never Be Found.” It shares a six-step process for escaping and shedding one’s identity.

But his time on the lam came to an end Monday after he left a heavy scent on his European getaway trail.

Over the weekend, numerous reports linked Magnotta to Paris, with sightings and evidence found at various places.

French media reported Sunday that personal belongings believed to be Magnotta’s were found in a hotel in a city suburb. Those reports said police discovered pornographic magazines as well as air sickness bags from the airplane he took to Paris from Montreal.

He remained in France until at least Friday, Montreal police confirmed. There were reports that Magnotta had boarded a bus for Berlin late last week.

Shockwaves from Lin’s death were also felt far beyond Europe.

Lin’s slaying prompted the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa to issue a statement advising Chinese visitors to Canada to take safety precautions.

— With a file from The Associated Press in Berlin and Steve Rennie in London

Geographic location: Berlin, Montreal

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