Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Magnotta look-a-like 'embarrassed'

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OTTAWA -- Joey Ghattas brushed it off when an elderly lady told him at a grocery store last Friday, "You should probably go indoors because you look like that Luka guy."

When mall security guards tapped the 24-year-old Ottawa man on the shoulder the following day, Ghattas realized others had the same impression: he could be mistaken for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man accused of the murder and dismemberment of a Chinese exchange student in Montreal.

"As soon as I turned around, the guards took a step back and realized they were wrong," Ghattas said.

The guards eventually mentioned the search for Magnotta, who was still the subject of an international manhunt -- he was later captured by police at an Internet cafe in Berlin.

"They said, 'We wanted to make sure. You kind of resemble him from a certain angle.' I was kind of insulted. I don't think I look like him at all," Ghattas recalled. "I was so embarrassed."

After that, he noticed stares from strangers more frequently, especially when wearing sunglasses. A woman and two children stopped on the sidewalk as Ghattas approached them while walking his dogs. Others peered at him as he idled at a red light in his car. "It has been very frustrating," he said.

Since Magnotta's arrest Monday, the stares have "calmed down," Ghattas said. But he still gets questions about the resemblance.

The decomposing torso of Concordia University student Lin Jun was found stuffed in a suitcase behind Magnotta's Montreal apartment on May 29. The same day, Ottawa police found Jun's severed foot and hand, which had been sent through Canada Post for the Conservative and Liberal party headquarters, respectively. Police intercepted the package destined to the Liberal party before it could be delivered.

Police believe a hand and foot mailed to two Vancouver schools are linked to the case. Jun's head has not been found.

Magnotta, 29, is being held in a prison in Berlin until his extradition to Canada. The Toronto native faces charges of first-degree murder, committing indignities to a body, and publishing and mailing obscene matter.

 

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2012 A26

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