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Quebec court will question Europeans in Magnotta trial

Witnesses could include employee from Berlin internet café where alleged killer was apprehended

Luka Magnotta refused to confess to charges against him, including first-degree murder. Credit: Xtra file photo

It’s on to Europe.

Prosecutors in the first-degree murder case of Concordia student Lin Jun are heading to Paris and Berlin to interview more than 30 possible witnesses who may hold clues as to what suspected killer Luka Magnotta did while on the lam from police in June 2012.

Several of those witnesses were supposed to testify before a Quebec Superior Court by video link during Magnotta’s preliminary hearing in 2013, but the prosecution’s efforts were marred by various logistical issues. Magnotta’s defence complained that bringing in the Europeans by proxy did not give them ample opportunity to vet the witnesses.

Nevertheless, Magnotta’s trial judge approved the prosecution’s request to head to Europe and interview those who may have met Magnotta. That could include the Berlin internet café worker who called the police after realizing that the man sitting at one of the computers was wanted by Canadian police.

Little is known about Magnotta’s itinerary from his flight to Europe, although witnesses at the time did say that he was spotted with another man — quoted in the French media as “La Colosse.”

It’s unclear whether the witnesses sought by Canadian prosecutors will make an appearance at the trial — slated to start on Sept 15, 2014 — but Magnotta’s defence team told reporters that they’ll be calling on the Crown to bring all witnesses to the Montreal courtroom.

“If Mr [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper was able to pay $450,000 [to bring Magnotta to Canada,] they can pay to have 20 to 35 witnesses come to Canada,” Luc Leclair, chief defence counsel for the accused, told the Canadian Press.

Yet Canada has no way to compel those foreign witnesses to testify. Furthermore, there may not be ample audio and video infrastructure in the Paris and Berlin courtrooms — one of the issues that frustrated efforts to have them testify during the preliminary hearing.

In all likelihood, the Crown will simply submit the testimony they will collect in the coming weeks at the trial.