MONTREAL – The cost to Canadian taxpayers for Luka Rocco Magnotta’s extradition from Germany, aboard a government plane fit for the prime minister, is expected to be about $375,000.
The estimated price tag for the accused killer’s unusual journey home includes flight expenses, catering service and a hotel stay for authorities who fetched the fugitive from across the Atlantic, according to federal documents obtained by The Canadian Press.
Berlin police arrested Magnotta in early June to end an international manhunt following the killing and dismemberment of Chinese national Jun Lin.
Magnotta is facing several charges in connection with the gruesome slaying, including first-degree murder. The 30-year-old porn actor and stripper has pleaded not guilty to all counts. The chilling details of the crimes he’s accused of caught media attention around the world.
The circumstances of his exceptional return to Canadian soil also raised eyebrows.
Magnotta flew home aboard one of the military’s CC-150 Polaris Airbus transport planes, an aircraft that can be configured to accommodate prominent passengers such as the prime minister, foreign dignitaries, the Governor General and members of the Royal Family.
The flights, from an Alberta military base to Germany and back to Canada, spanned 23.9 hours at an estimated rate of $15,505 per hour — for a total cost of $370,570.
The rate is an estimate that includes maintenance, hangar fees, crew salaries and fuel, which makes up $6,420 of the hourly cost, according to the Department of National Defence.
The hotel cost for eight crew members to stay overnight in Berlin was expected to come to nearly $1,300, while the catering total was approximately $3,500 — $1,500 in Montreal and $2,000 in the German capital.
The figures were included in a package of documents obtained under the Access to Information Act.
A spokeswoman for the Department of National Defence said the final bill for the mission should be confirmed by financial staff in the coming weeks.
“They have a partial actual cost — they’re almost there, but they didn’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Morgan Bailey said.
The tally does not include costs assumed by other Canadian police forces involved in Magnotta’s extradition.
The documents say Public Safety Canada asked the Department of National Defence for help in bringing “a person of interest” from Berlin to Montreal.
The plane’s journey to fetch Magnotta began as it lifted off from a military case in Cold Lake, Alta. It headed for Montreal, where it picked up police officers, before travelling overseas to Berlin.
The ride home saw the Airbus fly from Berlin to Magnotta’s drop-off point at Mirabel airport, north of Montreal. The aircraft later continued on to a military base in Trenton, Ont.
At the time, a police official told media that commercial airlines had declined requests to transport Magnotta across the Atlantic.
Montreal police were thankful the federal government made the plane available for the extradition.
“How can we bring him back to Montreal on a commercial flight with other people sitting on board?” Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said in Mirabel, shortly after Magnotta emerged from the plane.
“For very extraordinary cases, we do have to take some extraordinary measures.”
Lafreniere also said a direct flight was necessary because, in the case of an international layover, Magnotta could have tried to claim asylum in any country he might have landed in on his way back to Canada.
The Montreal police department has declined, however, to share how much it spent on the mission to Germany.
In a response to an access-to-information request, the force cited concerns that sharing such figures could expose investigation methods and have an impact on court proceedings.
A Montreal police spokeswoman interviewed recently said the service would not comment on details of Magnotta’s extradition flight, which Lafreniere has indicated included six city officers.
Quebec provincial police, which were involved in the mission, also declined to reveal the costs associated with Magnotta’s return to Canada.
In its response to a demand made under the Access to Information Act, the provincial police force referred the request to Montreal police, which it indicated was leading the file.
Police allege Magnotta fled Montreal for Europe in late May, shortly before Lin’s torso was discovered inside a suitcase in an alley behind the suspect’s west-end apartment building.
The body of his supposed victim was found in multiple pieces. The 33-year-old Concordia University student’s hands and feet were mailed separately to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver.
Magnotta, who is originally from Scarborough, Ont., was arrested without incident at a Berlin Internet cafe on June 4 after he was spotted reading online news articles about himself by an employee.
Two weeks later, he was aboard Flight CFC 3812 bound for Mirabel.
Magnotta was met by a motorcade of police vehicles with flashing lights at Mirabel airport. A half-dozen men escorted him down the aircraft’s stairs onto the tarmac, and into an unmarked minivan at the centre of the convoy.
Armed officers, at least one of whom carried an assault weapon, monitored a handcuffed Magnotta during the transfer after he emerged from the grey airplane emblazoned with the Canadian government’s logo.
Magnotta is also accused of defiling Lin’s corpse, harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MPs, and publishing and mailing obscene material.
He opted for a trial by jury during a June court appearance in Montreal and will face a preliminary hearing next March, where part of the evidence against him will be heard.