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Trial in 27 women's deaths set to begin

Jan. 29, 2006 at 8:36 AM

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Despite a publication ban, media converged in southern British Columbia Sunday for the trial of Robert Pickton, accused of murdering 27 women on his pig farm.

Pickton, 56, will appear in a New Westminster court on Monday to enter pleas in 27 first degree murder charges in the deaths of sex and drug trade workers from Vancouver.

He was arrested in February 2002, and local and Royal Canadian Mounted Police began a 20-month forensic search of his property, where remains were discovered.

It is Canada's largest-ever suspected serial killing trial, the Vancouver Sun said.

Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, said in an interview with the Globe and Mail that Pickton will enter a not-guilty plea, but offered no other comments.

The media is prohibited from publishing any evidence heard during the opening "voir dire" part of the trial, where prosecutors spell out their case, which is expected to last for months.

The RCMP will monitor news organizations, in particular those from the United States, to ensure no one breaches the publication ban, said RCMP Staff Sgt. John Ward.

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