Canadian body parts suspect arrested in Berlin

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BERLIN -- A Canadian porn actor suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student and mailing his body parts to Canada's top political parties was reading about himself on the Internet when he was arrested Monday at a cafe in Berlin.

Canadian investigators say 29-year-old Luka Magnotta's obsessions led him to post Internet videos of his killing kittens, then a man, and finally to his arrest at the cafe where he had spent two hours reading media coverage of himself.

An international manhunt set off by a case of Internet gruesomeness that captured global attention ended quietly in the working-class Neukoelln district of the German capital when a cafe employee recognized Magnotta from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car.

Confronted by seven officers, "He tried at first giving fake names but in the end he just said: ‘You got me,'" said police spokesman Guido Busch. "He didn't resist."

Magnotta is wanted by Canadian authorities on suspicion of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old man he dated, and mailing his body parts to Canada's two top political parties.

They say Magnotta filmed the murder of the student from Wuhan, China, and posted it online. The video shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it in what police called a horrifying video.

The warning signs apparently were already there. For nearly two years animal activists had been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of his cruelty online. Since Jun Lin's murder, Montreal police have released a photo from the video which they say is of Magnotta.

In 2005, Magnotta was accused of sexually assaulting a woman, but the charges were dropped, the lawyer who represented him at the time said.

Magnotta is believed to have fled to France on May 26, based on evidence police found at his apartment and a blog he once posted about disappearing.

In Germany, surveillance camera footage of the Internet cafe, obtained by The Associated Press, showed Magnotta casually walking in to the shop at noon local time, wearing jeans, a green hoodie sweater and sunglasses.

He briefly spoke to the Internet cafe's desk person, then walked off to his assigned computer with the number 25 where he would later be spotted reading the news about his case.

About two hours later, seven German police officers are seen walking into the shop, without any haste or pointed arms.

On the camera footage, three police officers are seen accompanying the handcuffed Magnotta a couple of minutes after they first entered the venue. Magnotta calmly walks alongside them, again wearing sunglasses.

In Germany, police spokeswoman Kerstin Ziesmer said Magnotta is being questioned, and will be brought before a judge behind closed doors.

"He says he is the wanted person," she added, while cautioning that his identity must still be independently confirmed by German authorities. Canada, like Europe, has no death penalty, making extradition more likely. Quebec bureau of prosecutions spokesman Rene Verret said it could still take a long time to get him back to Canada, but he said if Magnotta doesn't contest the order he could be returned within a couple of weeks.

The case's full horror emerged when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal party of Canada. And a torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building. Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked Montreal studio apartment last Wednesday.

As they unraveled his background, police discovered that Luka Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and that he was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He is also known as Vladimir Romanov, is white, 5 feet 8 inches (1.78 meters) tall, with blue eyes and black hair.

His mother, Anna Yourkin in Peterbourgh, Ontario, said she had no comment, apologized and hung up the phone.

Toronto lawyer Peter Scully said he represented Magnotta in a fraud case in 2004 and a sexual assault case in 2005. He said he was charged with a dozen counts of fraud and impersonation for using a woman's credit card to buy about $17,000 worth of goods, including a television, DVD player and several cellphones. He said he pleaded guilty to four fraud-related charges after serving 16 days in pretrial custody. He received a nine-month conditional sentence and a year of probation.

Scully said Magnotta was charged with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005, but the prosecution decided to withdraw the charges. The woman's father became so irate and threatening that Scully said he wrote a letter to police and the prosecutor, telling them about it.

Scully remembered Magnotta as soft-spoken and polite.

"I've had lots of creepy characters and Eric did not stand out as one of them," he said. Scully refers to his client by his previous name, Eric Newman.

But Nina Arsenault, a Toronto transsexual who said she had a relationship with Magnotta over a decade ago, described him as a drug user with a temper, who sometimes turned his anger on himself, hitting himself on the head, and other parts of his body.

While Magnotta described himself in an online video interview with a site called "Naked News" as a stripper and male escort, Lin was registered as an undergraduate in the engineering department and computer science at Concordia University in Montreal. Police have confirmed Magnotta is a porn actor and that he and Jun had a relationship.

"We said from the beginning that the web has been used to glorify himself and we believe the web brought him down," said Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere. "He was recognized because his photo was everywhere."

Gillies contributed to this report from Toronto. David Rising contributed from Berlin. Sean Farrell contributed from Montreal and Phil Couvrette contributed from Ottawa, Ontario.

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