A Canadian porn actor accused of killing a Chinese student, dismembering and cannibalising his body and posting a bloody video of the crime online has plead not guilty to all charges, as his lawyers consider whether to seek a psychiatric evaluation.
Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, appeared by video link in a packed Montreal courtroom on Tuesday, and lawyer Pierre Panaccio said Magnotta understood the charges and waived having them read out.
Magnotta's next court appearance, also by video, will be on Thursday.
He pleaded not guilty to murder and four other charges, which included committing indignities to a body, Louis Bouthillier, crown prosecutor, said at the courthouse.
"I felt and we all felt it would be easier for all concerned for him to appear via video link," Bouthillier said.
Flanked by police officers, the suspect wore a hooded grey sweatshirt and appeared passive during a 10-minute hearing, where he was formally charged.
Magnotta is charged with the first-degree murder of Jun Lin, as well as criminal harassment, interfering with a dead body, mailing obscene materials and publishing obscene materials.
Police say the video, which they believe is genuine, showed a man stabbing his victim to death before dismembering and defiling the corpse and then eating part of the body.
Lin's hands and feet were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and to schools in Vancouver, his torso was found in a pile of garbage behind Magnotta's Montreal apartment, and his head is still missing. Police say Lin, 32, was killed on May 24 or 25.
The case has horrified Canada, and Montreal police have described the crime scene as the worst they have ever seen.
Magnotta, who was on Interpol's most-wanted list, was arrested in Germany earlier this month and deported to Canada in a Canadian government jet on Monday after he waived the right to contest the deportation.
Prosecution officials said Magnotta's lawyer asked for a delay in proceedings until Thursday to decide whether to request a psychological evaluation to determine if he could be held criminally responsible.
Lin's parents flew to Montreal after their son's death, and prosecutor Helene Di Salvo said prosecutors would meet them soon.
"It's the beginning of a very long year or two years, so we will try to help them to go through this because at some point, I'm guessing, they will go back to their own country and my colleague and I really want them to believe in our justice system," she said.
"This is really hard for the family."
The Chinese government urged that justice be done. "We hope that Canada can uphold justice, and in handling this case give consideration to the wishes of the deceased's family," Hong Lei, foreign ministry spokesman, said in Beijing.
"We hope to see justice upheld in this case, so that the deceased can rest in peace."
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|Timothy V. Gatto|