Senior Harper Aide Testifies at Luka Magnotta Hearing

March 21, 2013 // Trial News

A top confidante to Prime Minister Stephen Harper testified at a preliminary hearing for accused killer Luka Magnotta as it wrapped up Thursday before a two-week break.


Several witnesses came from Ottawa to testify including Jenni Byrne, who has served the prime minister in senior roles in his office and in the Conservative party.

Magnotta, accused of first-degree murder in the killing and dismemberment of engineering student Jun Lin, has pled not guilty to all charges and chose trial by jury.

Magnotta is facing five counts including the murder charge: committing an indignity to a body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material.

Byrne, who is now the director of political operations for the federal Conservative party, testified in a Montreal courtroom as the hearing entered its ninth day. She delivered her account matter-of-factly, with no display of emotion.

Magnotta, meanwhile, sat impassively and listened. He was shackled and seated in his fortified prisoner’s box in the high-security courtroom …¬†Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing is subject to a publication ban. The hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to send Magnotta to trial.

Byrne’s brief appearance came as a group of Ottawa-based witnesses testified. They included two Ottawa police officers and a Canada Post inspector.

Witnesses were heard through mid-day Thursday, when the hearing adjourned until April 8. Witnesses from Europe, Vancouver and Montreal are scheduled to be heard after the pause.

Police witnesses have made up the bulk of the two dozen people to testify so far.

The court has also heard from a journalist from the United Kingdom, two Montreal apartment building employees, a number of Canada Post employees and a trio of medical experts.

Magnotta collapsed in court this week after watching video evidence. He has appeared to be wiping away tears at times and has often held his hand to his mouth during testimony.

Both the Crown and the defence told Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman that one more week in April should be enough time to complete the hearing.

The hearings have produced some bizarre twists.

The defence tried to have the public and media barred altogether from the proceedings, but the judge rejected the request.

Then a member of Magnotta’s legal team withdrew from the case after the Crown raised the possibility of a conflict of interest.

The family of the victim has travelled to Montreal for the hearings but has attended them only sporadically.

A family lawyer said Jun Lin’s father, mother and sister have come from China, at considerable cost, in order to honour their relative’s memory and follow the proceedings.

Jun Lin, 33, was his only son.

Lawyers for the Lin family, working pro bono, have attended on their behalf.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press


  1. How strange, that Luka would become fixated on members of Parliament. I read an interesting article in an online Toronto newspaper written by a woman who knows Luka personally, and she pointed out that Luka Magnotta has absolutely no interest in politics, no connection to anything political, and has never even voted. But then, Luka is allegedly schizophrenic, so who knows what he was thinking? I see only two reasons for sending the packages to parliament. Either he was doing a favor (or so he thought) for a very close friend of his who has worked in politics and has a reason to dislike the Liberals and the Conservatives, or else his poor mentally deranged mind caused him to do what he did. It is a bit odd that a severely mentally ill man (if indeed that is what Luka is) would be functioning well enough to escape Canada with the authorities searching for him… So, is Luka mentally ill, or is he brilliant?
    Time will tell.

    • I doubt we will ever find out the reason why … however, Luka Magnotta will have a very hard time proving, that he did not know the difference between right and wrong

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