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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 01:30 GMT 02:30 UK
Two trials for Canada pig farmer
Police searching for bodies in Mission, British Columbia
Investigators spent months combing the Vancouver farm
A Canadian pig farmer accused of being the country's worst serial killer will initially be tried on six counts of murder, prosecutors have said.

A judge had ordered that the case against Robert Pickton be split because a single hearing involving all 26 murder charges would be too long.

Mr Pickton, accused of murdering women over three decades, denies the charges.

The trial is set to begin on 8 January 2007, after hundreds of potential jurors are screened in December.

Mr Pickton was arrested in 2002 when dozens of police swept onto his farm in the suburbs of Vancouver.

Police say his victims were female drug addicts and prostitutes who began disappearing from a poor Vancouver neighbourhood in the late 1980s.

He was initially charged with 27 killings but one was dropped by the court.

Prosecutors said after the first trial on six counts, the second trial on the remaining 20 counts would be held at a later date.

"We looked at all the rulings and the nature of the evidence and it was determined from our perspective that it was the most prudent course of action to proceed with the six counts," prosecution spokesman Stan Lowe said.

A court ban prevents journalists from reporting any of the evidence until a jury has been chosen.

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