Luka Magnotta is not fighting his extradition and could be aboard a government-funded private jet to Canada within a month, German officials said as the 29-year-old Montrealer accused of a grisly dismemberment-killing waited in a Berlin prison cell.
“The suspect said that he will not fight the extradition,” senior Berlin prosecutor Martin Steltner, responsible for Mr. Magnotta’s case, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “The extradition process is very complicated in Germany, and it can take months, even years – but not in this case. It will be much easier to get him to Canada.”
German officials confirmed that Mr. Magnotta was the suspect using fingerprint data, and moved him from a police holding cell in western Berlin to a pretrial cell in central Berlin on Tuesday afternoon. They said he slept soundly in a 1.5-metre-square solitary-confinement cell without any complaints or special requests, ate a light breakfast and smoked a cigarette.
Police and justice officials said they knew he had arrived in Berlin by long-distance bus from Paris on June 1, after a week on the run from Montreal, but wouldn’t reveal where he had stayed or how he had chosen the Internet café in Karl-Marx-Strasse where he was caught on Sunday viewing stories about his alleged crimes.
Mr. Steltner said the suspect had not stayed in a hotel or hostel. “From what we can tell, it looks like he stayed with friends,” Mr. Steltner said.
Mr. Magnotta’s court-appointed lawyer, arranged after a meeting between the suspect and Canadian consular officials on Tuesday morning, said he was being co-operative.
“I met him a few hours ago and will visit him in prison the next days,” said Evelyn Ascher, the German lawyer assigned to represent Mr. Magnotta in his deportation case. Citing solicitor-client confidentiality, she would not confirm that he would not be contesting the deportation.
German lawyers familiar with the extradition system said it is realistic to expect the deportation hearings to take up to a month – assuming that Mr. Magnotta does not contest them, and that Germany decides he has not committed any crimes in their country – given the complexity of translating documents and dealing with multiple federal, provincial and German state jurisdictions involved.
“I think this is an extradition case that will be relatively straightforward,” said Sascha Böttner, a German lawyer who specializes in extradition. “There's nothing about this case that is unusual – apart from that it's a murder case, but in the legal sense everything should go according to procedure. If it doesn't take a few days, I would say it would take a maximum of a month.”
Mr. Böttner noted that either the German or the Canadian government will likely have to pick up the bill for a transatlantic charter flight, or a military jet, to deliver him to Canada once the deportation is complete.
“I find it unlikely that they would choose to transport him to Canada on a regular commercial flight,” Mr. Böttner said. “I can imagine that they would arrange special transportation for him in a small plane with security detail, or a military plane. But a commercial flight might cause panic.”
One German lawyer warned that even an uncontested extradition case could drag on for longer than a month, because of the complexity of the paperwork. “All in all, I think the procedure will take several months,” said Cliff Gatzweiler, a criminal lawyer specializing in extradition in Aachen. “They need the formal documents like the international arrest warrant translated in German. This will take some time.”
Montreal police officials say they aren’t worried about how long extradition takes because they have months of investigation ahead before the case is closed.
“Honestly, we’ve got no clue how long it will take and … it’s not a rush for us,” Commander Ian Lafrenière said. “The biggest manhunt in Montreal police history is over, and the suspect is safely in custody.”
The prosecutor confirmed that Mr. Magnotta had admitted to his identity, but had not revealed anything about the murder or his flight: “He didn't say anything about the crime in Canada.”
With reports from Janelle Dumalaon in Berlin and Les Perreaux in Montreal.