MONTREAL - A shackled Luka Rocco Magnotta remained impassive as he made his first court appearance since last June on a first-degree murder charge in the gruesome slaying of a Montreal university student.

Magnotta kept his eyes on the ground when not looking at the Crown or the judge as lawyers set the stage Wednesday for a preliminary hearing that will begin March 11.

The hearing, which will determine whether the 30-year-old Ontario native is sent to trial, is scheduled to last at least two weeks and possibly resume in June.

Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin last May.

Most of the contents of Wednesday's 35-minute hearing cannot be revealed because of a publication ban. It served mainly to deal with issues like evidence, the number of witnesses to be heard and a rough schedule of the hearing.

The proceedings took place in a high-security courtroom where Magnotta sat throughout in a large prisoner's box. At the end, he used an intercom phone to speak briefly to his lawyer before being whisked away.

Magnotta faces other charges related to Lin's death: committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material.

Quebec court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman will preside over the preliminary hearing. Any eventual trial would be held in Quebec Superior Court.

Magnotta has previously pleaded not guilty and chosen trial by judge and jury. He is represented by Luc Leclair, an Ontario-based lawyer who has been granted leave by the Quebec bar to represent Magnotta. He is also represented by Pierre Panaccio, a Montreal defence attorney.

Neither man spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

Nearly two dozen reporters attended the hearing — a rarity for what is generally just a procedural stage.

Jean-Pascal Boucher, a spokesman for the Crown's office, said his office is ready to proceed with the preliminary hearing.

"We are set, we are ready to proceed in March for two weeks and we set aside a few more days to ensure the preliminary inquiry will be finished as soon as possible," Boucher said.

Magnotta became the subject of an international manhunt after parts of Lin's body began turning up across the country.

He is accused of mailing body parts to different places including the Ottawa offices of the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and two Vancouver schools.

Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier will be trying the case on his own for now. His counterpart, Helene Di Salvo, was recently named a Quebec Superior Court justice.

"Mr. Bouthillier is in charge of the file, he is a senior prosecutor, he has a lot of experience so it makes no difference for us," Boucher said.

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  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is shown in an artist's sketch in a Montreal court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Magnotta has collapsed in court during his preliminary hearing.The notorious suspect in a killing and dismemberment case had been listening to evidence against him, whose contents are subject to a publication ban.

  • Daran Lin, father of murder victim Jun Lin, leaves the courthouse in Montreal on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Preliminary hearing is set to start for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is seen in an artist's sketch in a Montreal court on Monday, March 11, 2013. A preliminary hearing is set to start for Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.Magnotta's lawyers want the public and media barred from attending the hearing, which is to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.

  • Daran Lin, father of murder victim Jun Lin, leaves court with his translator Daran Lin in Montreal on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Preliminary hearing is set to start for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Alleged killer Luka Rocco Magnotta is seen in court on a artist drawing Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in Montreal. Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is taken by police from a Canadian military plane to a waiting van on Monday, June 18, 2012 in Mirabel, Quebec. Magnotta, the lone suspect in a brutal Montreal killing that made headlines around the world, is back home to face justice on Canadian soil. (Montreal Police)

  • Magnotta lands in Canada (Montreal Police)

  • Magnotta lands in Canada (Montreal Police)

  • Mug shot of Luka Rocco Magnotta, released by Montreal Police on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Magnotta told a judge Tuesday he will not fight his extradition from Germany to Canada, Berlin police say. Magnotta is wanted in Canada on several charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the killing and dismemberment of Chinese national Jun Lin. (AP Photo/Montreal Police Service via The Canadian Press)

  • Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke speaks during a news conference after a human hand was delivered to a school and a human foot to another in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. Montreal police later confirmed the packages are connected to the dismembered body of a Chinese student found in Montreal last week and the international manhunt for his killer. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A man walks his dog past St. George's School where a human foot was delivered to the school earlier in the day in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. A human hand was also delivered to another Vancouver school Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A television cameraman films parents and students at False Creek Elementary School after a human hand was delivered to the school earlier in the day in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. A human foot was also delivered to another Vancouver school Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A police car leaves the central police detention facility of Berlin supposedly carrying Luka Rocco Magnotta to a Berlin court Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Luka Magnotta, 29, a Canadian porn actor suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese was arrested on Monday at an Internet cafe. A cafe employee recognized Magnotta from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. (AP Photo/dapd/ Timur Emek)

  • The internet cafe where Luka Rocco Magnottahe was recognized in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Luka Rocco Magnotta entering the Internet cafe in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012, where Kadir Anlayisli, who works in the cafe recognized him. "I looked at him and thought I knew him from somewhere, because I read newspapers every day," Anlayisli said. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Kadir Anlayisli, a cafe worker waiting for police in the doorway of the Internet cafe in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012, where Luka Rocco Magnotta was arrested. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows police entering the Internet cafe shortly after. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, 2nd left, being removed by police from the Internet cafe. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • Kadir Anlayisli stands next to the computer where he recognized Luka Rocco Magnotta. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • The Interpol alert, which shows various photos and a discription of Luka Rocco Magnotta. (AP Photo/Interpol/dapd)

  • This surveillance image provided by Interpol shows Luka Rocco Magnotta at a security checkpoint. (AP Photo/Interpol)

  • In a Wednesday, May 30, 2012 photo, janitor Eric Schoer looks at a blood-stained fridge at an apartment rented by suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta, where police believe a man was murdered and dismembered, in Montreal. (The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

  • A police officer removes a package containg a human foot from the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

  • The following is a series of photos and self-portraits posted by Magnota on various websites (Facebook)

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  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

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  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)