Berlin police might never have arrested Montreal crime suspect Luka Magnotta but for the fact that their officers were with a group of trainees and "had to give a good example," a new report says.
The candid admission from a Berlin police officer is tucked in a special report in Friday's edition of the newspaper La Presse, which sent reporters to revisit the European locations where Mr. Magnotta set foot a year ago while he was a fugitive wanted in a gruesome murder-and-dismemberment case in Montreal.
Mr. Magnotta is to go on trial in September 2014 for the slaying of Concordia University student Lin Jun, a Chinese national whose body parts were scattered around town and mailed to political parties.
Last June, with an international manhunt under way to find him, Mr. Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris then took a bus to Berlin and on June 4 ended up at an Internet café in the working-class neighbourhood of Neukölln.
Staff at the café noticed Mr. Magnotta was looking at porn and appeared to be checking out articles about himself.
One employee, Kadir Anlayisli, went outside to flag down the police.
He ran into two police instructors, Marc Lilge and Gabriela Kind, who were taking a group of nine cadets on patrol around Neukölln, a borough with a large population of Turkish origin.
The police training group had just done some traffic duty and were on their way to a shop-lifting call.
"If the cadets hadn't been with us, we would have never stopped at the Internet café were Magnotta was. We wouldn't have caught him," Marc Lilge told La Presse. The report appears in the print and iPad edition of La Presse but not its website.
"People wave at us all day in this neighbourhood. We don't have time to hear all of them. But this time we had to give a good example."
Mr. Lilge added that they were at first skeptical about Mr. Anlayisli's claim that the notorious crime suspect was sitting nearby surfing the Internet.
"It made no sense. But the young ones were impressed. They wanted to go have a look."
They came in and asked him who he was. He tried to give police a false name but quickly gave up. "You got me," he said.