KASSEL, Germany (Reuters) – A German man has confessed in court to killing and eating a willing victim, saying it had felt like a religious act to eat human flesh.
Offering a full account of the killing that has gained him worldwide notoriety as “The Cannibal of Rotenburg”, Armin Meiwes said there were “hundreds, thousands” of people seeking to fulfil their desires to eat humans or be eaten via Internet adverts in forums called “Cannibal Cafe,” “Guy Cannibals” and “Torturenet”.
The trial of Meiwes, 42, started on Wednesday in the central German city of Kassel, in a case that has shocked Germany, exposed the dark side of the Internet and could make legal history.
Giving testimony so frank it drew gasps from the public gallery, Meiwes said he had buried the innards of the corpse and kept the skull and plastic bags of flesh in his freezer. He ate about 20 kg (44 pounds) of the flesh, defrosting it bit by bit.
“With every piece of flesh I ate I remembered him,” Meiwes, self-assured and well-spoken, told the judge. “It was like taking communion.”
Meiwes said his upbringing alone with a dominant mother had stoked his interest in cannibalism, making him long for a little brother he could make part of himself.
The gaunt, bespectacled computer repair man told of how he made contact online with the 43-year-old Berlin computer specialist identified only as Bernd-Juergen B..
He invited him to his elegant half-timbered home in Rotenburg near Kassel and killed him with a kitchen knife in a “slaughtering room” he had built containing meat hooks, a cage and a butcher’s table.
“He told me he had had the desire since he was a child to be slaughtered and eaten,” Meiwes said. “He was very intelligent and I didn’t see any sign that he was disturbed.” Meiwes filmed the killing and the video tape may be shown to the court.
The film shows Meiwes — who has been described by his lawyer as a “gentleman of the old school” — cutting off the victim’s penis at the latter’s request.
“It was important to him that his member be cut off and that he witness it,” said Meiwes. “It gave him pleasure.”
Ten hours after the dismemberment, the victim fell unconscious and Meiwes killed him with a knife. He then hung up the corpse and cut it up, filming the process.
“SOMEONE TO BE PART OF ME”
Prosecutors have charged Meiwes with murder after a psychiatrist declared him fit to stand trial. They are seeking a life sentence.
They acknowledge that the victim wanted to be killed but they believe he was incapable of rational thought.
Meiwes’s lawyer has pleaded for him to be convicted of “killing on request”, a form of illegal euthanasia which carries a far lower sentence of up to five years.
The problem, legal experts say, is that the charge of full murder is unlikely to stick given that the video film shows the victim to be willing. The case may go as far as the Federal Constitutional Court, Professor Arthur Kreuzer of the Institute for Criminology at Giessen University said this week.
Meiwes said he became obsessed with wanting a younger brother — “someone to be part of me”.
Using the pseudonym “Franky”, he posted Internet ads which read: “If you are 18-25 you are my boy, Franky from Germany,” or “Come to me I’ll eat your delicious flesh.”
Some 430 people responded to his e-mails within a year. He met five men face to face who didn’t want to go as far as being slaughtered but who were ready to engage in role-playing games, he said.