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Last Updated: Monday, 27 August 2007, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Pig farmer defence to make case
Sketch of Robert Pickton in court 11/12/2006
Robert Pickton has been in custody since 2002
Defence lawyers for alleged serial killer Robert Pickton are due to begin calling witnesses, seven months after his trial began in Vancouver, Canada.

Mr Pickton is accused of murdering 26 women but is initially being tried for six murders. He has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution wrapped up its case this month after calling 98 witnesses.

But the trial, which was due to resume on Monday, was delayed for at least a day, as the judge said both legal teams needed more time to prepare arguments.

The defence team, who expect it will take about three weeks to question witnesses, have not said whether Mr Pickton will take the stand.

Most of the women Mr Pickton is accused of murdering were prostitutes and drug addicts who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over more than a decade.

Mr Pickton, 57, was arrested in 2002 and has been in custody since then.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr Pickton butchered the women after he killed them and disposed of their remains on his pig farm outside Vancouver.

The prosecution case included DNA evidence from the farm, statements he made to the police and an undercover police officer in his cell, and witnesses who testified about what they had allegedly seen on the farm or heard from Mr Pickton.

'Open mind'

The defence challenged the witnesses' credibility and the reliability of the evidence linking Mr Pickton to the murders.

At the trial's opening in January, defence lawyer Peter Ritchie called on the jury to keep an open mind about the case.

He urged them to pay "close attention to where Mr Pickton's DNA does not appear in relation to those exhibits (recovered form the property)".

He also told jury members to think of the farm as a "busy hive of activity".

"Pay attention to...the number of people that go there; the identity of people that go to the property; people who have residence on the property and they type of activities and nature of activities that took place on the property."

Under Canadian law, the prosecution is required to inform the defence about their witnesses but there is no such obligation for the defence team.

It is therefore not known whether the defence will call Mr Pickton to testify.

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