MONTREAL — The man who housed Luka Rocco Magnotta in Berlin says the accused murderer had a few thousand Euro, no luggage and was reportedly looking for a fresh start after breaking up with a lover.
Frank Rubert told Magnotta’s first-degree murder trial on Wednesday the entire encounter with Magnotta — online and in person — spanned several days in late May and early June 2012.
He met Magnotta on a chat website called GayRomeo while looking for a roommate.
Testifying through an interpreter, Rubert said they spent much of their time together shopping, eating and drinking but did not have sex because Magnotta wasn’t his type.
Rubert said he didn’t want to bring Magnotta home when he first saw him at the bus station, where he had arrived from Paris.
The native of Scarborough, Ont., looked greasy and unkempt and was wearing a wig, although the witness didn’t realize it at first. Rubert decided to bring him home because he didn’t want to leave him alone in Berlin with nowhere to go.
“He arrived at the bus station and he didn’t look like somebody I would feel attracted to,” said Rubert, 53.
Magnotta, 32, has pleaded not guilty to five charges in the murder and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin in late May 2012.
He has admitted to the acts he’s accused of in Lin’s death, but is arguing he is not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder.
In the days after the killing, he flew to France before heading to the German capital and hooking up with Rubert.
Over the four days leading up to Magnotta’s arrest, the two men used Google Translate on their respective laptops to communicate as neither spoke the other’s language.
During their time together, Rubert knew the accused as Kirk or by his GayRomeo user name, William2323.
Rubert told the jury he snapped some photos of Magnotta as the latter wanted to set up an online advertisement so he could begin working as an escort in Berlin.
He said they socialized for four days without anything untoward happening. They were together all the time and Rubert said he never saw Magnotta take any kind of medication or appear nervous.
He noted that Magnotta was generous and often bought drinks for others.
On the day of Magnotta’s arrest, June 4, 2012, the pair had parted ways for a few hours. During that time, Rubert picked up a newspaper and saw a chilling image on the inside pages: a photo of Magnotta with a story describing an international manhunt for his arrest on suspicion of murder.
Rubert said the story mentioned the person was being sought for killing his Chinese friend and that body parts had been sent to the government. The article also mentioned that pieces of a body had been eaten in front of a camera and that it had been documented on the Internet.
“I read the article, there were cruel things in that article,” Rubert said, adding he began to get nervous at the thought of that same individual being in his apartment.
While Rubert contacted police and waited at a nearby station, an Internet cafe employee had flagged down police officers after seeing Magnotta in the establishment.
After Magnotta’s arrest, police seized his personal items from Rubert’s apartment.
“On that day I reflected, and thought how stupid was I to let just anybody come into my apartment without knowing what kind of a person this was,” Rubert said.
The German police, he added, wished him a happy birthday after the arrest.
“I replied it’s not my birthday and the police said yes, it is, because you could have been the next,” he said.
It was only then that Rubert found out Magnotta’s real name and nationality.
The Crown contends that Magnotta planned Lin’s killing and says it will prove that during the proceedings.
The charges against Magnotta are first-degree murder; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.