Magnotta arrives home to face Canadian justice
Reporters attend a news conference in Montreal on, Tuesday, June 5, 2012 where details about the arrest and the ongoing investigation of Luka Rocco Magnotta were announced. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
Published Monday, June 18, 2012 7:17PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 18, 2012 10:47PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Luka Rocco Magnotta quietly left Canada last month as a little-known porn actor and prostitute with a penchant for self-promotion on the Internet.
He returned from Germany on Monday in a military plane, his hands and feet shackled during the flight. Armed guards watched him as he disembarked, while a media helicopter buzzed overhead.
Magnotta was immediately led to a police convoy, which whisked him away to face interrogators and charges including first-degree murder.
During his month-long European sojourn, Magnotta became the suspect in a crime so brutal that it made him the target of an international manhunt; the long-time attention-seeker was apparently reading news stories about himself when arrested in a Berlin Internet cafe.
Magnotta, 29, was wanted for his alleged connection to last month's killing and dismemberment of Montreal university student Jun Lin.
He arrived back in Canada just before 7 p.m. Monday.
A motorcade of vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet the suspect at Mirabel airport, north of Montreal. A half-dozen men escorted him down the stairs off the plane, onto the tarmac, and into an unmarked minivan at the centre of the convoy.
Armed guards, at least one of whom carried an assault weapon, monitored a handcuffed Magnotta during the transfer after he emerged from the grey airplane.
His fellow passengers on the military transport aircraft included officials and law-enforcement agents from Canada and Germany. Police said there was no trouble at all from the prisoner wearing the running shoes, the pale green shirt, and the shackles.
Authorities said they were grateful the federal government had made a military plane available for the extradition.
"How can we bring him back to Montreal on a commercial flight with other people sitting on board?" said Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere, when asked about the use of a federal transport plane.
"For very extraordinary cases, we do have to take some extraordinary measures."
Police said Magnotta could face a judge as early as Tuesday. It was unclear whether his Montreal court appearance would be in person or by videoconference, they added. Local investigators were expected to start interrogating him Monday night.
As the gory case moved back to Canada, authorities in Germany were breathing a sigh of relief.
"We are glad that he's gone," said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin's prosecutor's office, on Monday. "(There's) a lot of trouble in this case."
The stomach-churning details of the Montreal slaying, and the subsequent international police search, whipped up a storm of media interest around the world.
Magnotta was arrested shortly after Montreal police issued a warrant for his alleged connection to Lin's death last month.
The male escort and porn actor, originally from Scarborough, Ont., was accompanied on the flight by a half-dozen Montreal police officers.
Federal sources said the plane was also carrying German and Canadian officials, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and Canada Border Services Agency employees. The plane was already in Germany when it added Magnotta as a passenger.
Given the severity of his alleged crimes, Magnotta was being restrained during the flight.
His supposed victim, Lin, was found in multiple pieces. Lin's torso was found locked inside a suitcase in an alley outside Magnotta's Montreal apartment building. His hands and feet were mailed separately to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver.
DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University.
Police also believe the killer videotaped the 33-year-old Lin's death and posted the footage online.
Lafreniere said there is still lots of police work left to help Lin's loved ones find closure.
"This is not the end of the investigation -- we're doing the investigation because, as you know, we're missing an important part of that investigation, which is the head of the body," Lafreniere said.
"To help out the family, we'll do everything to find it."
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Monday that he's been pleased with the co-operation between Quebec police and government departments, particularly National Defence for providing a plane on short notice.
He noted that Magnotta himself had sped up the process by declining to contest his extradition. Magnotta could have delayed that extradition but chose not to fight it.
"The suspect in this case decided to voluntarily return to Canada, so that this matter can proceed as quickly as possible," Toews said in Ottawa.
Toews and Nicholson also thanked German officials for the suspect's swift extradition.
"It is important that Canadians can have confidence that those who are accused of serious crimes will face the full force of the law," they said in a joint statement. "Canada values the co-operation of its international partners in the fight against crime."