Self-confessed cannibal returns
A self-confessed cannibal will face a new trial in Germany from Thursday, as prosecutors seek a murder conviction for the man who killed and ate an apparently willing victim he met on the Internet. Cannibalism: Orgy of FleshUpdated: Jan 11, 2006 12:53 IST
A self-confessed cannibal will face a new trial in Germany from Thursday, as prosecutors seek a murder conviction for the man who killed and ate an apparently willing victim he met on the Internet.
Armin Meiwes, 44, was jailed for eight and a half years in January 2004 for manslaughter but was cleared of murder after the court heard the victim had been seeking "the ultimate kick" when he advertised himself on a cannibal website.
But a federal tribunal last April upheld state prosecutors' appeal, calling the verdict too lenient, and ordered a new trial before the regional court in the western city of Frankfurt. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence.
The judges will have to determine whether Meiwes committed murder or the lesser charge of "killing on demand" in slaughtering and eating a volunteer.
The evidence in the case is lurid and exposed a secret scene of extreme fetishism that shocked and fascinated the country.
"This trial has opened the door to a world that one is tempted to immediately shut again," presiding judge Volker Muetze said when passing the original sentence in Kassel, central Germany.
Meiwes, the computer technician, met Bernd Juergen Brandes after advertising under the pseudonym Franky for someone ready to be killed and eaten.
Brandes, 43, an engineer with a girlfriend, had posted his own ad as a willing sacrifice.
The convergence of their fantasies online in early 2001 led to a meeting in Meiwes's picturebook hometown of Rotenburg, where the two performed and videotaped a gruesome series of rituals at his rambling half-timbered farmhouse.
In March of the same year, Brandes, who had written a will, bought a one-way train ticket to Rotenburg.
After sex at Brandes's request, they cut off his engorged penis which they fried and tried to eat.
Losing consciousness, he was killed by Meiwes, who dissected his body like an animal's, having studied butchery techniques.
Meiwes eventually ate 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of the flesh - accompanied by a pepper sauce or wine sauce with potatoes - stored more in a freezer and buried the rest.
Afterwards he continued to trawl for willing victims and was only arrested in December 2001 after a student alerted police.
Meiwes told the court during his trial that he had fantasized since puberty about eating another man.
"I imagined that the one who would be with me should also never leave me," he said, before admitting the killing to the judges.
"I kissed him again and also prayed for forgiveness for him and for me - and then I did it."
The so-called "cannibal of Rotenburg" had 16 computers and 2,000 disks full of information about Germany's secret cannibal underworld. He had been in contact with more than 200 people, most of whom wanted to be killed and eaten, or tortured.
Prosecutor Lothar Senge has argued that it is crucial the German justice system ensure that a "highly dangerous defendant" is not eligible for release as early as 2008.
The federal court said when it accepted the appeal that because Meiwes had made a videotape of the act with the aim of producing pornography for himself and others, the killing likely qualified as "murder for sexual gratification".
It added that the case would also likely fall under a German law against "murder for the purpose of committing another crime" - in this case, disturbing the peace of the dead.
Meanwhile Meiwes has become a minor celebrity, granting the rights to a television documentary about his life and inspiring a hit rock song.
First Published: Jan 11, 2006 12:53 IST