By Sharon Tindyebwa
The preliminary hearing for Luka Magnotta, charged in the dismemberment murder of university student Lin Jun, begins today in a Montreal courtroom.
Magnotta’s lawyers have applied to keep the courtroom closed to reporters and the public interested in hearing details about the infamous case that has garnered international attention.
The 30-year old porn actor is charged in the first-degree murder and dismemberment of Chinese-born, Concordia University student Lin last year.
Jun was last seen alive on May 24. Five days later, a human torso was discovered in a dumpster near Magnotta’s Montreal apartment. On that same day, a human foot was mailed to the Conservative Party’s Ottawa offices.
The discovery of the body parts triggered an international manhunt for Magnotta and resulted in Magnotta being added to Interpol’s most wanted list.
A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to proceed to trial. There is usually a publication ban on the evidence brought forward in the hearing, but attempting to ban the public and the media from the courtroom altogether is rare, media lawyer Dan Henry told Humber News.
Magnotta’s lawyers made the request to close the courtroom because of Magnotta’s medical and personal history. His lawyers did not give details.
Henry said the lawyers will have to meet the Dagenais-Mentuk test.
“That puts the onus on them to prove the specific release they are seeking is necessary because there are no reasonably available alternatives to allow them to obtain a fair trial,” Henry said.
Several news outlets are expected to contest the ban.
Henry said that while the onus is not on the media to prove why the courtroom should not be closed, the media can argue “advancing their rights not to be kicked out,” and “the right of the public not to be kept in the dark about the progress of a criminal case that is of obviously great importance, great interest.”
Magnotta is accused of videotaping himself killing and dismembering Lin.
In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Magnotta is also accused of committing an indignity to a human body, posting obscene material, criminal harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and
mailing obscene material.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to all charges.