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Canadian man accused of selling deadly substances to plead not guilty: lawyer

TORONTO (AP) – A lawyer for a Canadian man accused of selling deadly substances over the internet to people at risk of self-harm says he will plead not guilty to an upgraded murder charge.

Kenneth Roe was charged in December with 14 counts of second-degree murder, and his attorney Matthew Gourley confirmed Friday that all of those charges have been upgraded to first-degree murder.

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An international investigation is underway following the arrest of 58-year-old Low, who was originally charged in Canada with two counts of counseling and aiding suicide last year. Further charges were announced in December.

Canadian police said Low, a Toronto-area resident, used a series of websites to promote and sell sodium nitrite, which is commonly used to treat meat. He is accused of shipping them to people in more than 40 countries.

A Canadian man has been charged with unlawfully aiding and abetting suicide. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

British police said they were investigating 88 deaths in the UK linked to these websites. Authorities in the United States, Italy, Australia and New Zealand have also launched investigations.

Roe's case was scheduled to return to court in Newmarket, Ont., on Tuesday, but Gourlay said that won't happen as planned because the case will be heard directly in Superior Court. Mr Gourlay said his next appearance will be in the High Court next Thursday.

The attorney general did not immediately respond to questions about why the case was upgraded to first-degree murder. Peel Regional Police submitted comments to the department.

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Police said all charges against Roe relate to the same 14 victims, aged between 16 and 36, who died in communities across Ontario. More than 1,200 packages were shipped around the world, with about 160 believed to have been shipped in Canada.

It is against the law to encourage suicide in Canada, but since 2016 assisted suicide has been legal for people over the age of 18. Any adult with a serious illness, disease, or disability can and must seek help in dying. Physician assistance.

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