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Magnotta preliminary hearing nears end with final testimony this week

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MONTREAL - If Luka Rocco Magnotta is ordered to stand trial, it should be on a charge of second-degree murder and not first-degree, one of his lawyers said Monday.

Luc Leclair told court he intends to make final arguments to that effect later this week as Magnotta's preliminary inquiry wraps up.

Magnotta, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin. He has pleaded not guilty and opted for trial before a judge and jury. A trial likely wouldn't be heard until 2014.

The Crown says only one more witness might appear at the hearing. After closing arguments, a judge will have to decide whether Magnotta's case should be sent to trial.

On Monday, the proceedings resumed after a two-week break. Witnesses included Montreal's Dong Dong Xu, a man described as a good friend of Lin's, as wel as people who appeared from Vancouver via a video link.

Xu answered questions from Crown and defence lawyers as Magnotta listened impassively.

Xu, 30, attempted to have a publication ban placed on his identity, but the judge dismissed the request.

The Vancouver witnesses included a Canada Post employee and a police constable.

Also, the court heard from two witnesses each from St-George's School, an all-boys school, and two from False Creek Elementary School.

Both are located in Vancouver.

More than 30 witnesses have been heard so far. Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier only plans to call one more, from France. However, it remained nebulous whether the individual would be called.

Testimony from witnesses who were expected to testify via video link from Germany has been cancelled. The defence says it won't hear any witnesses.

None of the evidence can be published because of a court-ordered ban.

In addition to first-degree murder, Magnotta is also facing four other charges related to the case: 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.

Lin's father attended the brief afternoon hearing.

Quebec court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman is hearing the case. Any trial would take place in Quebec Superior Court.

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