Luka Rocco Magnotta is taken by police from a Canadian military plane to a waiting van on Monday in Mirabel, Quebec. — Photo by The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta has pleaded not guilty in the body-parts case.
Appearing in a Montreal courtroom by video link, Magnotta is protesting his innocence in a slaying-and-dismemberment case that has drawn international attention.
The 29-year-old murder suspect was shackled and taken into custody at Mirabel airport north of Montreal on Monday night, after being returned from Germany aboard a military plane.
Magnotta, a self-described porn actor and prostitute, faces charges including first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, and harrassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He is accused of killing and dismemberment Montreal university student Jun Lin, and mailing out his body parts to different places including the Ottawa offices of the Conservative Party of Canada.
The court appearance lasted about three minutes Tuesday.
Appearing before Justice Lori-Renee Weitzman, Magnotta pleaded not guilty through his lawyer Pierre Panaccio. The case returns to court on Thursday, again by video, to discuss a motion to have Magnotta evaluated.
Panaccio told his client in a brief comment that he hoped to speak with him later Tuesday.
“If you wish to call me at home tonight, I’d be pleased to talk about this,” Panaccio told Magnotta.
“OK,” the accused replied before being led away to detention.
Magnotta, who became the target of an international manhunt, was arrested in a Berlin Internet cafe while apparently reading news stories about himself.
A motorcade of vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet Magnotta at Mirabel and a half-dozen men escorted him off the plane and into an unmarked minivan.
Police said preliminary checks with private airlines suggested it would be difficult to use a standard commercial carrier to get Magnotta home. Among the problems: the airline would have had to vacate “a complete section” of seats around the accused body-parts killer.
“We made checks and there was no interest from commercial airlines,” said a Montreal police spokeswoman.
He arrived in Canada late Monday, and was brought to a police operations centre for questioning. Police said they planned to ask about the location of Lin’s head — which has yet to be found. They said they wanted to find that missing part to help bring closure to the victim’s family.
Lin’s torso was found inside a suitcase in an alley, and his hands and feet were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver.
DNA tests have confirmed all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday when asked about Magnotta’s return that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give “the victim a result that can have him rest in peace.”