Magnotta’s murder trial looms

Montreal - A Canadian man accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student in Montreal in 2012 requested the identity of his family remain secret ahead of what is expected to be one of the most grisly and sensational murder trials in Canadian history.

Luka Magnotta, 32, is alleged to have killed Chinese student Jun Lin, 33, dismembered him, and mailed the body parts to Canadian political parties and two elementary schools. He has also been charged with committing indignities to Lin's body and broadcasting obscene material. He has pleaded not guilty.

An artist's sketch shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, appearing in court for his preliminary hearing in Montreal, Canada. File picture: Atalante. Credit: Reuters

Magnotta, who changed his name several years ago from his original family one, appeared in court on Thursday. His lawyers have asked for a publication ban on the identity of family members who are expected to appear as witnesses in the trial.

Jury selection is set to begin September 8, with the trial beginning shortly after.

Appearing much heavier than when he was caught in Berlin after an international manhunt in 2012, Magnotta looked little like the former model whose features were plastered across the many social media sites he frequented in the years leading up to the alleged crime.

He remained stoic during the legal proceedings, closing his eyes and appearing to be almost sleep at times.

Benoit Lapointe, a lawyer representing Lin's father, asked the court on Thursday to permanently restrict media access to certain evidence, saying “there are exhibits that should not be distributed or published” because they are obscene. The judge has not yet ruled on the matter.

Lin's father, Diran Lin, is expected to travel to Montreal from China to attend at least part of the murder trial in September.

Magnotta was arrested in a Berlin Internet café 12 days after Lin's death, reading news stories about himself, after the manhunt, and quickly extradited to Canada.

The killing of Lin in the early summer of 2012 shocked Canadians and grabbed headlines around the world. Magnotta was also charged with criminally harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and using the postal system to send obscene material. - Reuters