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German cannibal expresses regret

A German cannibal expressed regret for killing and eating an apparently willing victim as a state prosecutor demanded that he be sentenced to life in prison for murder.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2004 18:25 IST

A German self-confessed cannibal expressed regretfor killing and eating an apparently willing victim as a state prosecutor demanded that he be sentenced to life in prison for murder.

"I very much regret everything that I did," the accused, Armin Meiwes, told a court in the central German city of Kassel, which is expected to rule Friday in a macabre case that has fascinated and appalled the German public.

Meiwes has admitted killing and eating most of 43-year-old Bernd Juergen Brandes, whom he met via the Internet, in March 2001 but he says Brandes agreed to the killing, which was filmed by the defendant on his home video camera.

He has also admitted being sexually aroused by the act.

In a statement to the court, Meiwes warned there were thousands of potential cannibals around the globe meeting and seeking victims over the Internet.

"The number of people on the Internet who are into it is much greater than people think. There are several thousand in Germany and many tens of thousands around the world," he said.

"You can be sure that many have not just remained in the realm of fantasy."

In calling for a life sentence, state prosecutor Marcus Koehler told the court that Meiwes was guilty of committing murder for sexual pleasure and that he had planned to sexually satisfy himself later with the videotape of the act.

Summing up the case for the prosecution, Koehler said Meiwes had been "driven by the lowest possible motives" and a "willingness to kill", when he took Brandes' life and carved his body into pieces.

He demanded that the accused be jailed for life for murder, which would bring a minimum jail sentence of 15 years under German law. Cannibalism itself is not a crime in Germany.

Koehler said Meiwes was not interested in the needs or desires of his victim and that Brandes' willingness to die had only provided the accused with an opportunity to carry out his long-held cannibal fantasy.

However lawyers for the 42-year-old computer technician said he is guilty only of "killing on demand", punishable by up to five years in prison.

Meiwes "knew that he had someone in front of him who wanted to die", said his lawyer Harald Ermel in summing up the case for the defence.

Ermel said that the accused was not a violent man but had given in to "an obsession for human flesh".

Last week, two psychiatric experts told the court that Meiwes could not be classified as mentally ill and could be held criminally liable for the murder.

"He carried out an act that was planned and prepared," psychiatrist and psychology professor Georg Stolpmann said.

Stolpmann described the accused as "extremely smug and self-assured" and said his complicated relationship with his mother meant that he had not learnt how to maintain relationships.

He said that Meiwes, early in his life, had apparently fantasised about having a friend who would never leave him and that the arrival of the Internet and email had encouraged him to act out that fantasy.

"With this act, Meiwes thought only of his goal, not of Brandes' needs," he said. "Meiwes realised his dream."

On January 19, sexologist Klaus Beier told the court that the accused "has at least average intelligence and shows no signs of psychiatric illness".

First Published: Feb 02, 2004 17:33 IST