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Luka Magnotta arrives at Montreal’s Mirabel Airport. (Handout from Montreal Police)
Luka Magnotta arrives at Montreal’s Mirabel Airport. (Handout from Montreal Police)

Magnotta pleads not guilty in body-parts case Add to ...

Luka Rocco Magnotta has pleaded not guilty in the body-parts case.

Appearing in a Montreal courtroom by video link, Mr. Magnotta has pledged to protest his innocence in a slaying-and-dismemberment case that has drawn international attention.

His appearance lasted about three minutes. Mr. Magnotta stood impassive as he appeared on-screen at the courthouse, flanked by a guard at a police station in a different part of the city.

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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.

Mr. Magnotta, a self-described porn actor and prostitute, faces five charges including: first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, harrassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament, as well as publishing and mailing obscene material.

He is accused of killing and dismemberment Montreal university student Lin Jun, and mailing out his body parts to different places including the Ottawa offices of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Appearing before Justice Lori-Renee Weitzman, Mr. 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 Mr. Magnotta evaluated.

Mr. Panaccio told his client 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,” Mr. Panaccio told Mr. Magnotta.

“Okay,” the accused replied before being led away to detention.

The prosecution will be represented by two experienced Crown lawyers, Louis Bouthillier and Helene Di Salvo, who have worked numerous high-profile cases.

Mr. Magnotta, who became the target of an international manhunt, was arrested in a Berlin Internet café while apparently reading news stories about himself.

A motorcade of vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday when asked about Mr. 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.”

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