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MONTREAL (Reuters) — A Canadian judge rejected on Tuesday a request to ban the press and public from the pre-trial hearing of a Montreal man accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student, eating parts of the corpse and posting an online video of the grisly crime.
But Judge Lori Renee Weitzman left intact the customary ban on publication of evidence brought forward in such preliminary hearings.
In the hearing, prosecutors will seek to persuade the court that they have enough evidence against small-time, self-styled model and porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta for the case to go to trial.
In an unusual request, Magnotta's lawyer had asked the judge to exclude reporters and the public from the proceedings entirely, arguing that this would prevent leaks of the evidence and guarantee Magnotta's right to a fair trial.
Weitzman said her ruling took into account the competing rights of freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial and she believed journalists would abide by the publication restrictions.
She said she would revisit the defense's request if necessary.
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The killing of Chinese student Jun Lin last May shocked Canadians and grabbed headlines around the world, sparking an international manhunt that led to Magnotta's arrest in Germany last June.
Magnotta is accused of killing Lin, an exchange student in Montreal, and of posting a video on the Internet of the stabbing death, and of himself defiling the body and possibly eating parts of it.
Lin's hands and feet were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver. His torso was found stuffed into a suitcase in a pile of garbage behind Magnotta's Montreal apartment, and his head was later discovered in a nearby park.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder, indignities to a body, harassing public officials and publishing obscene materials.
Magnotta sat in a glass box on Tuesday, the second day of the hearings. He wore a white T-shirt and purple pants and faced the front of the room, closing his eyes occasionally.
Lin's family flew to Montreal from China for the hearing and his father, Diran Lin, sat silently in the back row of the courtroom.
They are in Canada "to honor their son," the Montreal Gazette said.
Lawyers representing a group of media has argued against the exclusion, saying publication bans on preliminary trials are adequate enough to ensure fairness, The Canadian Press said.
The courtroom was packed with press and onlookers as the trial began on Monday, with reporters from across Canada and overseas attending. Journalists began lining up at 6:30 am to ensure a place inside, the Gazette said.
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