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Mandel

Luka Magnotta adds to abhorrent indignities

By Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun

Lin Jun's father, Diran Lin, outside court in Montreal where Luka Magnotta is on trial for murder, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)

Lin Jun's father, Diran Lin, outside court in Montreal where Luka Magnotta is on trial for murder, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)

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MONTREAL - 

Again and again the warnings were repeated over the last few weeks as the Luka Magnotta murder trial neared its opening.

And yet no word of caution can really prepare you for the horror that flashes up on the screen.

Police-scene photos of a man’s torso stuffed tightly into the cavity of a cloth suitcase, the skin pale and hairless like some frightful, broken Greek statue. One footless leg discovered triple wrapped in bloody, oozing garbage bags, cleanly butchered below the hip. In another bag, the second leg as well as two muscular arms, their hands missing.

Such is the perverse indignity Magnotta has admitted committing on Chinese computer engineering student Lin Jun, killing him and then carving his body into pieces in his apartment on May 25, 2012. As his trial opened Monday before Lin’s grieving father, the lumpen dark-haired 32-year-old — no longer the slim, blond model from Scarborough — admitted to mailing some of the body parts to schools in Vancouver and political offices on Parliament Hill as well as dumping others in a local park and in the trash behind his building.

But to add to such abhorrent indignities comes another; Magnotta’s effort to get off.

From behind his glass cage, in a voice both thin and high, he answered “not guilty” Monday to the five charges he faces, insisting he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and was not criminally responsible for his heinous actions.

How painful that must be for Diran Lin. Fighting back tears, he later told reporters through his lawyer that he had no choice but to come and listen to the cruelty visited upon his child by a man who now insists he was too mentally ill to know what he was doing.

“Some people just don’t understand why a father wants to watch evidence like this, but it’s his choice, it’s his son,” said Daniel Urbas. “He wants his questions answered: how it happened, what happened to his son, when it happened and especially, why?”

Blame schizophrenia, Magnotta’s lawyer insists.

In a rambling opening address, defence lawyer Luc Leclair told the 14-member jury that his client was born to a schizophrenic father, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia himself at 19 and has a lengthy medical history of mental illness in his native Toronto.

Among the episodes offered by the lawyer was Magnotta’s paranoia that PETA was after him because of his cat killing videos, a bizarre interview with the Toronto Sun in 2007 that had columnist Joe Warmington convinced the man needed to go the hospital and an involuntary commital to a Miami psychiatric ward.

In fact, just months before the murder, Magnotta went to a Montreal walk-in clinic and was referred to a hospital psychiatrist. According to his lawyer, at least, this death could have been prevented if he had received more help than the one-hour psychiatric assessment he was given.

But Crown attorney Louis Bouthillier insists Magnotta knew exactly what he was doing when he killed Lin and within hours, posted the disturbing video online.

He told the jury this grisly murder was both “planned and deliberate” — with Magnotta allegedly expressing his desire to make a snuff film as far back as six months before. Bouthillier said a British reporter will testify that Magnotta sent him an e-mail in November 2011 outlining his heinous plan.

Which makes you wonder if the reporter ever went on to warn anyone. But we learned there is certainly at least one mystery man who knew all too well what Magnotta was capable of doing.

For the first time, we heard there may have been a dress rehearsal for what would befall Magnotta’s ultimate victim. According to the prosecutor, the initial 53 seconds of the 10-minute “graphic, gruesome and potentially upsetting” death video was shot a week before Lin was killed and it features a completely different man, who was also bound naked to the same bed in Magnotta’s apartment.

But he was the lucky one. Unlike Lin, he made it out alive.

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