German cannibal faces murder charge again at trial

BERLIN (Reuters) – A German man who killed and ate a willing victim faces the prospect of a stiffer sentence at a retrial starting on Thursday for a crime that continues to horrify and enthral.

Armin Meiwes, 44, was convicted of manslaughter and given an 8-1/2-year jail term in January 2004 for cutting up a man he met via the Internet three years before.

However, Germany’s Supreme Court ruled last April that the verdict was too lenient and Meiwes should face a second trial with a renewed murder charge.

Retrial chambers do not have to follow a higher court’s decision, but are normally steered by their arguments. However, as prosecutors point out, this case is anything but normal.

Meiwes, a computer repairman, admitted killing Berlin-based computer specialist Bernd-Juergen Brandes, 42, but had initially been spared a murder conviction and a possible life sentence because the victim had asked to be eaten.

Prosecutors argued that Meiwes should have been found guilty of murder as he had killed to satisfy perverted desires.

Defense counsel Harald Ermel has argued that Meiwes’s sole motive was to meet the wishes of his victim and that his crime was only “killing on request,” a form of illegal euthanasia that carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Ermel declined to comment on the case before Thursday’s trial, although he said on Monday he would seek to block the planned March screening of “Rotenburg,” a film based on Meiwes’s life and named after his home town in central Germany.

At his home there, in a “slaughter room” fitted out with butcher’s bench, meat hook and cage, Meiwes severed Brandt’s penis and they both tried to eat it.

Later he killed Brandt, by then unconscious from blood loss, cut his body up and froze it, eating some 20 kg (44 lb) of it over the following months.

Psychiatrists found Meiwes deeply disturbed but sane.

The Frankfurt court must examine Meiwes’s motives and ask if they were sufficient to constitute murder. The higher court said the original court had ignored the fact that Meiwes had filmed the slaying for sexual gratification.

But there are some questions the trial, scheduled to last until March, will never answer in this bizarre case of sexual fetishism, such as what sort of person would want to be eaten.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Reuters, via ABC News, UK
Jan. 11, 2006
Philip Blenkinsop
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 11, 2006.
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