Edmonton gore site owner charged in Magnotta video investigation released on bail
EDMONTON – The Edmonton man who is allegedly behind posting a horrific video of the murder of Montreal student Lin Jun appeared for his bail hearing via CCTV from the Remand Centre Thursday morning, answering to the rare charge of corrupting morals.
The Crown had opposed Mark Marek’s release, saying he poses a flight risk because when the 38-year-old owner of the website bestgore.com was arrested Wednesday, he was carrying a passport and $18,000 in cash. According to the Crown, he also stated to police that he did not have a fixed address and intended on returning to his native country of Slovakia.
Since police had already seized his passport, the judge decided to release Marek on $7,500 bail, with a number of conditions – one of which includes Marek not accessing the Internet.
The Crown’s technicians are still going through Marek’s website and his seized devices. Based on what they find, it’s believed additional similar charges may be laid against Marek.
The Defence, meanwhile, argues that Marek is not a danger and posted the alleged Luka Rocco Magnotta video of Jun’s murder in the public interest “to determine if it was real.”
Magnotta goes on trial for the murder and dismemberment of Lin Jun next September. Marek’s next court appearance, meanwhile, is scheduled for August 1.
Montreal police thanked their Edmonton counterparts for the partnership on Thursday, saying “They put a lot of energy to this case.”
WARNING: This story contains disturbing content that may not be suitable for some people. Discretion is strongly advised.
After a complex investigation that took more than a year, EPS Homicide detectives charged Marek with corrupting morals (section 163 1 A of the Criminal Code).
He was charged and arrested Tuesday night.
The investigation, which began in June 2012, determined Marek was the owner and operator of bestgore.com, operated out of Edmonton.
“In early June of 2012, shortly after [Magnotta’s] arrest, the Edmonton Police Service started looking into the website and the allegations that were coming across, basically on the media, of the posting of the murder on the website,” explained EPS Staff Sgt. Bill Clark Wednesday.
“We started an investigation where I assigned two detectives… of the Homicide Section to investigate this website and try and track down the owner/operator of this website and determine if any criminal charges were warranted.”
The Homicide Section investigated the website and the video, which were linked to the homicide investigation into the death of Montreal student Lin Jun.
Luka Rocco Magnotta was charged with first-degree murder in the brutal slaying. His trial is scheduled to begin in Montreal in September 2014.
“It is alleged that Marek posted the video online in Edmonton, knowing the video that was sent to him by Luka Magnotta was depicting a real murder,” said Clark on Wednesday.
“This was a very long investigation. Basically, our suspect was very elusive,” he explained.
“The evidence we needed in the charge we laid corrupting morals… we needed to prove that he was the owner/operator of that site, we needed to have the evidence, the laptop, the hard drives, those types of things.”
Clark said Marek was located in Edmonton in February 2013. But one day after Clark arrived in the city, Marek left for Hong Kong.
EPS notified Border Services and Marek was detained in Vancouver on July 10 before being released and returning to Edmonton.
Marek agreed to a police interview on Tuesday.
“He was very cooperative, I can say. We retained a lot of evidence from that interview,” said Clark. “At the end of the interview… we laid one charge of corrupting morals against Mr. Mark Marek.”
Clark said the charge is extremely rare.
“I’ve never heard of that charge before. I know talking to the Crowns, they hadn’t heard of that charge. I believe that this may be the first time it’s been laid in Edmonton.”
The maximum penalty for the offence is two years.
“I can say he’s a very different individual. He has some thoughts that a lot of our investigators were shaking their heads at,” added Clark.
He says he found the website discturbing. “I would describe the website, myself, as my personal opinion, as a racist website, inciting hate, hatred, violence – violence above and beyond anything normal, anything close to what we’ve seen here,” he added.
Edmonton homicide detectives may be laying more charges, pending further investigation.
Thousands of people viewed the stomach-churning video posted on bestgore.com after news spread it might document the last moments of Jun’s life.
On May 29, 2012, Jun’s torso was found in Montreal. His hand and foot surfaced in packages mailed to Ottawa, and the possible link between the video and real life events became apparent.
Montreal police said they contacted the site’s owner and urged him to remove the video.
Marek took down the video voluntarily on May 31, with a message saying it was disabled temporarily due to his server not being able to carry the load.
“I removed it on my own terms, without being asked, requested or ordered,” he said.
Marek bills the site as a “reality news website.”
“If you find Best Gore obscene, then you find real life obscene. Best Gore does not report on some fantasy world. It’s all photos and videos from right here, on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” Marek wrote in an extensive online post in June 2012.
The same writing defends posting the video, saying it served the public good by exposing the alleged murder.
Magnotta, Marek said, was identified by the online community days before the police.
© 2013 Shaw Media