Three men face charges of manslaughter in the case of real-estate agent Jianguo (Tony) Han, who went missing in January from a home in Mississauga, Ont.
The accused, Senthuran Sabesan, Gobinath Shanthakumar and Sohaib Malik all also face kidnapping and aggravated assault charges in the case.
The nature of the charges may change pending the police investigation. The three men remain in custody.
Police found human remains in a Markham home earlier this week but have not confirmed if they are related to the disappearance of Mr. Han. Crown attorney Aimee Gauthier requested at least three days until the accused made subsequent court appearances.
The nature of the charges had previously been unclear.
Daniel Brown, Mr. Sabesan's lawyer, said that he received a phone call from police on Wednesday indicating that Mr. Sabesan was arrested at home in Barrie, Ont., and charged with first-degree murder, but was told Thursday morning that charges would include aggravated assault, among others. He said he was later told by a Crown attorney that the charges would include manslaughter. That charge was confirmed in court on Thursday.
Both dressed casually, Mr. Sabesan and Mr. Shanthakumar had heads held low as their manslaughter charges were read to them. Their lawyers requested a publication ban on the proceedings. Mr. Sabesan, 23, will appear in court on Tuesday, and Mr. Shanthakumar, 23, of Newmarket, will return on Aug 2.
Mr. Malik, 21, of Waterloo, was also in court Thursday and will appear again on Monday.
Mr. Han was abducted from a palatial house that he was trying to sell in Mississauga on Jan. 20, along with the home's owner, Jun (Johnny) Fei. Mr. Fei turned up injured a few days later, but Mr. Han has been missing ever since.
Police have said that the 44-year-old's abduction is believed to have been part of a ransom plot carried out by several people.
Mr. Sabesan was charged in February this year with two counts of kidnapping in the cases of Jianguo (Tony) Han and another. Hinthurjin Baskaran, 21, of Toronto, was also charged with kidnapping earlier this year in the case.
There is a warrant out for Guo Wei Wu, 43, who further faces an assault charge. Police say he may have fled to Montreal or Vancouver.
Mr. Han, an immigrant from humble origins in mainland China, worked out of a HomeLife Landmark brokerage in northern Toronto, where he specialized in helping new Canadians find houses. Among his listings were several multimillion-dollar homes.