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Cody Rae Haevischer, accused of six counts of first-degree murder in one of Canada's worst gangland slayings, is to go to trial without a preliminary hearing, the Crown said as he made his first court appearance yesterday.

Mr. Haevischer, wearing a grey hoodie, looked serene as he sat in the prisoner's dock of a high-security courtroom at Provincial Court. A wall of bullet-proof glass was between him and the spectators.

Wendy Dawson, the Crown counsel, said the charges against 24-year-old Mr. Haevischer would proceed by direct indictment. She declined comment outside the courtroom, following the five-minute hearing, as did defence lawyer David Butcher.

Mr. Haevischer's case has been put over to May. 15.

Six men died in a 15th-floor condo unit of Balmoral Tower on Oct. 19, 2007. Four victims were linked to gangs, but two were innocent bystanders - 22-year-old Chris Mohan, who lived across the hall from the unit and is thought to have been heading out to play basketball when he was caught in the carnage, and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg, a fireplace repairman servicing a unit in the complex.

Mr. Haevischer is charged with a count of first-degree murder for each of the victims: Mr. Mohan, Mr. Schellenberg as well as the four men linked by police to crime, 21-year-old Cory Lal, 26-year-old Michael Lal, 22-year-old Edward Narong and 19-year-old Ryan Bartolomeo.

Matthew Johnston, 24, is facing the same six charges.

Both men are also charged with conspiracy to murder Cory Lal.

Mr. Haevischer, Mr. Johnston, and James Bacon, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cory Lal as well as conspiring to murder him, were all arrested last week after another man, Dennis Karbovanec, 27, turned up in Supreme Court to enter guilty pleas for second-degree murder in three of the killings - Mr. Mohan, Mr. Bartolomeo and Cory Lal.

Mr. Karbovanec, who is to be sentenced this Thursday, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the first-degree murder of Cory Lal.

Last week's surprising events came after an 18-month investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team that involved 50 investigators and the taking of about 400 statements.

However, police have refused to comment on what led to a breakthrough in the case.

The killings came in the midst of a wave of gang violence in 2007 that ebbed, but has now surged again, leading Vancouver's police chief to dub it a "brutal" gang war. There have been four dozen shootings since January, 19 of them fatal.

The situation has drawn international attention as Vancouver and Whistler prepare to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Last Sunday's The Independent newspaper in England included a piece headlined: From heaven to hell: 18 die as drugs war rages on the streets of Vancouver.

The author of the article in the national paper notes that Vancouver once "had a clean, safe image," but "as it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, what it's got now is not cuddly, eco-friendly publicity, but blood-splattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses."

The pieces notes that Vancouver "is the battlefield in a war between myriad drug gangs," and concludes: "The best hope may be that one gang or another comes out on top, allowing it to impose stability, much as the Hells Angels bike gang used to do up to 15 or 20 years ago."

Rob Gordon, director of the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University, said the piece does not reflect well on Canada's Olympic city.

"It's a black eye; as big a black eye as tasering people at the airport," he said, referring to the case of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died after being zapped with a stun-gun by Mounties and then tackled in 2007.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if others don't pick up [the story]or mark it for further follow-up," said Mr. Gordon, who suggested Olympic organizers should acknowledge the problem, and note that police are dealing with it.

Mounties discussing the Surrey-six developments at a weekend news conference promised more arrests in the case, but also said the gang war is far from over.

The night of the news conference, there was another gangland-style killing. Police found a man shot to death, slumped over in the driver's seat of an SUV at a pizza restaurant in East Vancouver.

Mr. Gordon notes the suspects caught up in the developments are relatively minor players whose arrest may embolden up-and-coming gangs to try to make gains in the lucrative drug trade.

"[The arrests]are a good move; an important move, but not the end of the story."