July 18, 2012 Associed Press
MONTREAL — An envelope addressed to Luka Rocco Magnotta which was later found to contain a suspicious powder prompted authorities Tuesday to shut down one of Canada’s biggest postal centres.
The incident began after an employee at the Montreal plant spotted Magnotta’s name as the addressee and brought the letter to a manager, said Alain Duguay, the president of the facility’s union local.
Police were called to the distribution centre, which handles much of the mail for Eastern Canada. Duguay said an officer unsealed the envelope to find a white powdery substance inside.
“That’s when they set up a security perimeter and quarantined some people,” he said of the police reaction, which involved about 15 employees and brought operations to a halt for two hours.
Police determined the substance was not dangerous, but four people — two workers and two managers — were treated for what Duguay described as adverse psychological reactions.
Magnotta is facing multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in the death and dismemberment of Montreal student Jun Lin. He has also been charged with shipping some of Lin’s body parts through the mail.
In May, workers at an Ottawa postal warehouse found a parcel containing Lin’s severed hand — addressed to the Liberal party.
The 29-year-old porn actor has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Canada Post does not have a protocol to intercept letters addressed to Magnotta, so Duguay praised the employee’s decision to alert management.
“We know that there are investigations on Mr. Magnotta — I think it was legitimate,” said Duguay, who couldn’t say whether the envelope was addressed to the Montreal detention centre where Magnotta is locked up pending trial.
“I don’t think one can ever take too many precautions.”
Neither Canada Post nor Montreal police would confirm whether the letter was addressed to Magnotta.
But Const. Anie Lemieux, a police spokeswoman, said the force has launched an investigation.
“It’s something that they will look into,” Lemieux said of the possible Magnotta connection.
“Our investigators are looking to see where this envelope came from, what the content was exactly, who it was (addressed) to.”
A few hours after the envelope was discovered, a Canada Post letter-carrier depot in the Montreal-area community of Ste-Julie was also evacuated when staffers there found a suspicious powder. The substance was in a mail bin that came from the Montreal sorting centre.
The Ste-Julie warehouse was shut down for several hours and officials later determined that the substance was not hazardous, a spokeswoman for Canada Post said.
Anick Losier did say, however, that five employees in Ste-Julie were taken to hospital as a precaution because they were feeling ill following the incident.
Due to the incident, Canada Post cancelled mail delivery Tuesday in Ste-Julie and the nearby community of St-Amable.
At the Montreal centre, Losier said one employee reported redness on her skin after she came into contact with the substance found in the letter.
She said she doesn’t expect the shutdown of the Montreal distribution centre, a plant of nearly one million square feet, to cause a major slowdown for operations.
“Tomorrow, (it) should be back to normal.”
July 17, 2012
The grieving mother of murdered Chinese university student Jun Lin says her son’s brutal slaying in Montreal has changed her perception of Canada.
“We still believe that most people here are very kind, but this heinous crime happened in Canada. It’s made me reconsider what kind of place this is,” Zhigui Du said in an interview aired on CBC’s The National Monday night.
Du, who arrived in Montreal last month, says she lives in fear and sometimes feels as though everyone she passes on the street might be her son’s killer.
Lin’s torso was found in a suitcase behind a Montreal apartment building in late May, while his hands and feet were mailed to political offices and schools across the country. His head was only found earlier this month.
Lin’s mother says he left her with an idealistic view of Canada — the 33-year-old had studied the country extensively before choosing to move to study computer science at Montreal’s Concordia University — but her perception has changed since his murder.
Lin told her Canada was “a peaceful place with great respect for multiculturalism,” she said.
Luka Rocco Magnotta, an occasional porn actor with an extensive and bizarre online history, was arrested in Berlin in early June after an international manhunt. He faces five charges including first-degree murder and posting obscene material to the web.
Police say a video of Lin’s murder and dismemberment was posted to the Internet.
“What a disaster and huge pain for our family,” Du said.
“The most unbearable pain for me is that the video got posted on the internet. People watched it over and over. It’s like my son is being murdered again and again.”
Magnotta’s trial is due to begin next March.
Lin’s father, Diran Lin, said he hopes Canada can deliver justice in court.
Since Lin’s death shrines filled with messages in multiple languages have been built near Concordia and the convenience store where he worked. There was also a fund set up to help his family pay for the trip to Canada from China. Du said her family received ample support from Montreal residents and the federal government of Canada. She also said that she learned of her son’s death in a television report. Lin’s parents have not decided whether to bury their son in Montreal or in China.
July 16, 2012
MONTREAL — A lawyer who heard Luka Rocco Magnotta make allegations about being repeatedly abused and forced to have sex with animals says he could be called as a witness at his murder trial.
Romeo Salta, who says he met with Magnotta several times at his Manhattan office in the winter of 2010-11, told The Canadian Press he was informed of the possibility by the defence team last week.
Magnotta, 29, is now facing multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in the May slaying and dismemberment of Montreal university student Jun Lin. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and is due back in court next March.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS
A day before Salta was told he might be called to testify, the attorney spoke to a reporter about Magnotta’s assertions that he was frequently abused — physically, emotionally and sexually — by a mysterious acquaintance known as “Manny.”
Salta insisted that Magnotta gave him his blessing to go public with the disturbing details of the alleged attacks, if he were ever arrested or killed. The lawyer said Magnotta wanted people to know his side of the story.
But two days after discussing his exchanges with Magnotta, Salta indicated he’s been told to say no more.
He declined to answer follow-up questions because of a conversation he said he had with Magnotta’s lead defence counsel, Luc Leclair.
“Consequently, I have been advised not to disseminate any further information than what has already been said, especially when it comes to ’Manny,’ ” Salta wrote in an email.
Leclair did not immediately return a message asking about Manny and whether Salta could be a witness.
Salta recalled that a frightened Magnotta first contacted him in December 2010 or early January 2011 over concerns police were closing in on him amid a swirl of animal-cruelty accusations.
At the time, animal-rights activists were already publicly accusing Magnotta of killing kittens in videos posted on the Internet — allegations he denied in a newspaper interview.
The Canadian Press obtained several emails Salta said he received from Magnotta over the weeks that followed their first meeting. All are dated from January 2011, more than a year before Lin’s death.
In one email, Magnotta said Manny forced him “to have sex with his puppy and numerous cats.”
But Salta said he didn’t remember if Magnotta told him whether he had ever killed kittens.
“I believe he denied intentionally harming any animal,” said Salta, who also met Magnotta in person three or four times.
“He just kept saying, ’I like animals, I like animals, I like animals — I wouldn’t intentionally do anything to hurt an animal.’
“I guess, if anything, he was implying — possibly, I don’t know — that he was forced to do it.”
But when it came to accusations against Manny, Salta says Magnotta was categorical.
In one email dated Jan. 6, 2011, Magnotta listed 42 abuses allegedly administered by Manny — many in graphic detail. He said he was subjected to bondage and torture.
The porn actor originally from Scarborough, Ont., wrote that Manny “cut me with a knife because I wouldn’t kiss his feet” and made him “eat animal parts.”
He also alleged in the same email that Manny threatened to have private detectives hunt him down and kill him if he ever disappeared.
Salta did not provide much information about Manny, except that he believed he was giving money to Magnotta, who apparently lived in New York City at the time.
The lawyer wasn’t even convinced that Manny existed, though he said he had the feeling Magnotta truly believed the abuses had occurred.
“Whether or not they actually happened is another story,” he said, noting how at one point Magnotta had discolouration near one eye that he blamed on Manny.
Magnotta also sent Salta a photo that purportedly shows marks and bruises on his face.
Salta, who has 30 years experience, said Magnotta turned down his offers to help him file a complaint against Manny.
Magnotta wrote in another email that he was considering turning himself in after the animal-cruelty allegations surfaced on the Internet.
He wrote how he would want “protective custody” if he were ever sent to a detention facility, such as New York City’s Rikers Island. He even provided Salta with his mother’s phone number, just in case he was arrested.
Police did not have any arrest warrants at the time for Magnotta. There have been no reports of him being charged with animal abuse. The Toronto police force, however, has confirmed it began investigating Magnotta in February 2011 after it received animal-cruelty complaints.
Salta said Magnotta asked him to go public with his accusations against Manny if something ever happened to him.
“He wanted the story of his abuse made known if it’s at all relevant to anybody,” said Salta, who described Magnotta as very friendly but someone who showed little emotion.
“He told me that he wanted the authorities, he wanted people, to see what he suffered.”
Asked if he thought Magnotta could come back at him for revealing confidential client information, Salta said he never technically represented him.
“If he does, he does,” he said, before highlighting Magnotta’s prolific presence on the Internet.
“It seems like he’s posted enough things that would indicate that he’s waiving any kind of confidentiality.”
Salta said he even returned $300 given to him by Magnotta at their first meeting because he hadn’t done any official work for him.
The criminal lawyer, however, wanted to stay in touch with Magnotta based on the possibility of landing a new, high-profile client.
“I wasn’t doing it just for the sake of listening to somebody tell tales,” Salta said.
“In this particular situation, he showed me enough stuff that would possibly make one conclude that there may be an animal-abuse charge coming down the road, in which case he would need a lawyer.”