Publication ban sought for Luka Magnotta’s preliminary hearing

Luka MagnottaThe trial for Luka Magnotta in the high-profile murder of Concordia University student Jun Lin could begin next week with the one thing the public may not expect from the disturbing case: privacy and silence.

The Montreal Gazette reports that Magnotta's lawyer is requesting a publication ban when the preliminary hearing gets underway on March 11, meaning the public would not be privy to what evidence may be brought against the accused murderer.

Publication bans at preliminary hearings are fairly common, but nothing about the grisly death of Lin, a Chinese national studying in Montreal, will have prepared the public for radio silence.

The case became an international sensation due, in no small part, to the graphic details spread across the country and online before Magnotta was arrested in Germany amid an international manhunt on June 4, 2012.

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The murder investigation began when pieces of Lin were mailed to the offices of key political parties in Ottawa last year, and later also found sent to a school in Vancouver. A video purportedly showing the murder and decapitation of Lin was also posted online, and the investigation played out in great detail on social networking sites.

Magnotta himself appeared very adept at creating a life in the public eye, with a massive web of personal details and false personas cast from one end of the Internet to the other.

Multiple Facebook profiles rumoured to be false identities, personal websites celebrating his claimed fame as a male model and porn star and personal blogs, public letters and diatribes were sniffed out by the public.

A documentary released late last year outlined the path Magnotta took from outcast Toronto teenager to international murder suspect, and the online manhunt that began well before he was wanted by Canadian police.

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The Magnotta case has been a public stain on Canada since it first made headlines. It garnered attention across the globe even before Magnotta fled to Europe and was arrested in a German Internet cafe, apparently reading about himself online.

The Canadian Press even named the suspected killer Canada's newsmaker of the year.

So little of the case has suggested a request for privacy would ever come into play that even the common act of seeking a publication ban at next week's preliminary hearing is a bit of a surprise.

But even if one is granted, it doesn't mean the trial itself will be so secretive.

Canadians should prepare to hear about Jun Lin's grisly decapitation and murder all over again.