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‘Volunteer’ was alive during cannibal carvery

Sapa-DPA, Germany
Dec. 16, 2003 • Wednesday December 17, 2003

Forensic and toxicology experts told a German court that the victim of an act of cannibalism was still alive – but probably drugged – when his alleged killer was carving him up before administering the fatal knife wounds.

Forensic scientist Manfred Risse told the court in Kassel that self-declared cannibal Armin Meiwes knew his victim was alive when he began to cut him apart.

Meiwes, 42, has admitted killing and eating his victim in an act of cannibalism. He denied it was murder, however, claiming to have slashed the victim’s throat before cutting him up.

But Risse’s testimony countered this claim.

“He (the victim) was still moving his head back and forth. He was still breathing, his lips were moving,” the forensic scientist said, describing what he had seen on the video tape taken of the deed.

Risse, giving evidence on the third day of the trial, said if help had been sought in time, the 43-year-old victim’s life could have been saved after his penis had been severed earlier.

In later testimony, toxicologist Harald Schuetz said the victim was heavily under the influence of alcohol and medication in the final moments.

Schuetz said the victim had drunk two bottles of a cold medicine containing alcohol and a bottle of schnapps, and had swallowed 20 sleeping tablets. The combination had made him drowsy and had made him less sensitive to pain, the expert told the court.

But the toxicologist did not indicate to what extent the victim’s own free will may have been impaired by the drugs and alcohol. He said the effects of such combinations differ from person to person.

The two experts’ testimonies appeared to diverge in some aspects about the victim’s final hours. Meiwes said the victim had drunk the bottle of schnapps after his penis was severed, but that this could no longer be proven.

Also, the moment when the fatal stabs of the knife were applied came 10 hours later, when in any event the alcohol would have worn off, the forensic expert said.

During all the testimony with its grisly details, Meiwes sat quietly, showing no emotion.

A police officer said Meiwes often helped colleagues in private matters and visited the sauna with workmates.

Meiwes is charged with murder “for sexual satisfaction” and “disturbing the peace of the dead” for butchering the corpse. He could be jailed for life.

His defence is pressing for a lesser charge of “killing on demand” which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence.

In previous evidence, Meiwes described how he cut up and ate his victim, saying he was merely carrying out his partner’s wishes.

The court also viewed video tapes of the killing and butchering of the body in a session held in private.

Meiwes has, meanwhile, begun writing his autobiography in custody, his lawyer, Harald Ermel, said. Reports said Meiwes has also received a number of film offers for his story.

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