German ‘cannibal’ goes on trial

The trial is starting in Germany of a man accused of killing and eating another man.

Computer technician Armin Meiwes, 41, is charged with murder, even though the victim allegedly volunteered for his fate by replying to an internet advert.

The gruesome incident was all captured on camcorder and the video will form part of the evidence.

It is Germany’s first cannibalism case, and the world’s media have gathered in Kassel to watch the proceedings.

Mr Meiwes has already admitted in a recent newspaper interview that he killed and then partly ate his victim.

The grisly details of the case caused a sensation in the German media when Mr Meiwes was arrested in December, 2002.

Mr Meiwes advertised on the internet for a well-built male prepared to be slaughtered and then consumed.

The victim, 43-year-old Bernd-Jurgen Brandes, answered the advert.

Mr Meiwes told investigators he took Mr Brandes back to his home, where Mr Brandes agreed to have his penis cut off, which Mr Meiwes then flambeed and served up to eat together.

Shock value

Legally it is a tricky case, says the BBC’s correspondent in Berlin, Ray Furlong.

Cannibalism is not on the German law books and the defence will argue that since the victim volunteered this was no murder.

The prosecution will push for a life sentence on the basis that Mr Meiwes is simply too dangerous to ever be released.

Meanwhile Germans will continue to be treated to a media frenzy that plays on the story’s unrivalled shock value.

And among the “highlights” will be the two-hour video that Mr Meiwes took of the whole thing on his camcorder, our correspondent says.

“The public probably won’t be excluded from this part of proceedings, we have a tradition of open trials,” says Mr Hardenberg.

“But the panel of judges will only show the relevant parts: what the victim is saying and doing before and during the killing.”

Mr Meiwes has said that after his trial he intends to pass the time in jail – if convicted – by writing his memoirs.

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