The mother of slain Chinese student Lin Jun says that 10 months after her son’s killing she no longer has the will to live.
The 33-year-old Mr. Lin was killed and dismembered last May in Montreal in a case that made headlines around the world. Mr. Lin’s family met with journalists Tuesday as the preliminary hearing for his accused killer – Luka Rocco Magnotta – is on a break at the city’s courthouse.
They wanted to honour Mr. Lin’s memory ahead of the Qingming festival, a traditional Chinese date for families to commemorate ancestors and the deceased.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Lin’s emotional mother, to Du Zhigui, said she still struggles daily with the loss of her son.
“She said that before, she was full of hope for life… [She now has] no interest to live in this world,” said the interpreter as she translated for Mr. Lin’s mother, who broke down in tears a couple of times while talking about Mr. Lin. “She wants so much to hug her son.”
Mr. Lin’s mother, father and younger sister travelled to Montreal from China to follow the court proceedings. Mr. Magnotta is facing numerous charges – including first-degree murder – in the slaying of the computer engineering student. Lin Diran, Mr. Lin’s father, is the only one of the three who has been inside the courtroom for a first-hand look at some of the disturbing evidence that has been presented. His attendance in court proved to be very difficult. Overcome with emotion, a trembling and weeping Lin Diran left the courtroom in tears a few weeks ago after hearing evidence. He did not return to the courthouse for a couple of days.
Evidence presented at the preliminary inquiry is subject to a publication ban.
The hearing, adjourned until Monday, will determine whether there is enough evidence to send Mr. Magnotta to trial.
The family’s lawyer said they decided to meet with reporters Tuesday to ensure Mr. Lin’s memory does not get lost amid the heightened media interest in the suspect and the gruesome details of the case. Mr. Magnotta, 30, a porn actor and stripper, set off an international manhunt last year before his arrest at a Berlin Internet cafe.
“They don’t want their son to be a footnote in the CV of the accused,” said attorney Daniel Urbas, a Montreal commercial-litigation lawyer who is acting pro bono. “They understand the accused is on trial, but for them it’s all about their son, the memory of their son and his legacy.”
Mr. Lin’s father recalled how his son worked in IT at Microsoft’s Beijing office before moving to Canada to study at Montreal’s Concordia University. He arrived in Montreal in July, 2011.
“He found Montreal was a very nice city,” Lin Diran said through the interpreter, as the family sat at a boardroom table in Mr. Urbas’s office that was covered with about 20 photos of Mr. Lin. “He wanted to improve himself.”
Amid the family’s collection of pictures was an identification card from when Mr. Lin worked as a volunteer during beach volleyball events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Photos showed Mr. Lin as a little boy on a tricycle and as an adult standing with Minnie Mouse at Hong Kong Disneyland.
In most of the photos, Mr. Lin has a big smile. Mr. Urbas said Mr. Lin’s parents called their son by the nickname “pistachio,” which he indicated was meant to represent his tendency to burst with happiness and laughter.
Another photo – the last family shot taken before Mr. Lin moved to Canada – showed Mr. Lin and his mother making “V” signs with their fingers and flashing toothy grins.
On Tuesday, his mother looked physically exhausted and held her head low. “It’s very painful for her,” said the interpreter. “She hopes that her son could come back.”
Mr. Lin’s loved ones plan to honour him this week by visiting his Montreal grave on Thursday – a traditional Chinese date for families to honour the deceased. While visiting his tomb, the family plans to burn pieces of colourful paper that resembles money.
“The idea is to give the deceased gifts in the afterlife, things that they would want as a way of making it better for them,” Mr. Urbas said.
The family, meanwhile, hope their son will get justice and they have put their faith in the Canadian court system.
“I think it seems to be fair, as I have seen many witnesses that have gone to the court,” said the father, who also indicated the family is still looking for answers in Mr. Lin’s slaying.
At their lawyer’s recommendation, the parents did not answer questions on comparisons between the Canadian and Chinese judicial systems, nor did they discuss their thoughts about Magnotta.
They did, however, talk about how their son’s death has altered how people back home perceive Canada.
“Everybody said that Lin Jun should not have come to Canada,” the interpreter said after Lin Diran replied to the question. “Before, people around [the family] thought that Canada was a very, very safe place. But now they say that maybe there’s some places that are not as so safe.”
Lin’s mother followed up Lin Diran’s remarks with her own take on the reaction in their hometown. “They just wonder how could this kind of person exist,” she said of her son’s killer, through the interpreter. “So cruel.”
With files from Sidhartha Banerjee and The Canadian Press