MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta has pleaded not guilty in the body-parts case, appearing calm Tuesday in his first court session to face charges including first-degree murder.
Projected into the Montreal courtroom by video link, Magnotta protested his innocence in a slaying-and-dismemberment case that has drawn international attention.
His appearance lasted about three minutes. Magnotta was impassive as he appeared on-screen at the courthouse, while actually standing at a police station in a different part of the city, flanked by a guard.
The 29-year-old murder suspect had arrived in Canada the previous day, shackled as he was returned from Germany aboard a military plane.
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 Jun Lin, mailing out his body parts to different places including the Ottawa offices of the Conservative Party of Canada, and posting a video of the gruesome events on the Internet.
Appearing before Justice Lori-Renee Weitzman, 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 Magnotta evaluated.
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,'' Panaccio told 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. Di Salvo successfully prosecuted former world-champion boxer Dave Hilton for repeatedly molesting his daughters.
Magnotta, who became the target of an international manhunt, was arrested earlier this month in a Berlin Internet cafe while apparently reading news stories about himself.
A motorcade of vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet 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 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 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.
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 Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday when asked about 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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