Cannibal's victim was obsessed with sexual mutilation

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The victim of Germany's "Cannibal of Rotenburg" had a secret obsession with sexual mutilation, one of his former partners told the cannibal's trial yesterday.

As the fifth week of the murder trial began to focus on the personality of the victim, Bernd Jürgen Brandes, the former boyfriend, Victor Serano, told the court in Kassel that Mr Brandes had offered him the equivalent of £3,300 to bite off his penis. Mr Serano, from Berlin, said he met Mr Brandes in 1998 through an advertisement in a Berlin magazine in which he offered his services as a "Caribbean boy". During their three-year relationship they had sex at least twice a week and Mr Brandes soon expressed his desire to be mutilated.

Mr Serano told the court: "Bernd kept urging me to bite off his penis. He always achieved orgasm when I placed my teeth around it. He wanted to be bitten everywhere but the penis was his fantasy, his obsession. He offered me money, some 10,000 deutschmarks."

Mr Serano was giving evidence at the trial of Armin Meiwes, 42, a computer expert, who is is accused of mutilating, killing and eating Mr Brandes, 43, at his home near Rotenburg in March 2001. His testimony may determine whether Mr Brandes merely wanted to be mutilated by Meiwes, or whether he wanted to be killed and eaten as the defence has suggested.

Meiwes, wearing a grey suit and a sombre tie, frequently smiled and laughed during the hearing. He met Mr Brandes through the internet in 2001 and lured him to his farmhouse where he stabbed him to death in a specially constructed slaughter chamber.

Throughout the trial he has claimed that Mr Brandes, who took alcohol and sleeping pills before he died, wanted to be killed and that his death was a mercy killing. Before killing Mr Brandes he cut off his penis which both men later ate. Meiwes is charged with killing Mr Brandes to satisfy his sexual urges.

Mr Serano said Mr Brandes's obsession with being mutilated led him to end his relationship about a year before Mr Brandes was killed.

The court was told that Mr Brandes, who worked as a software programmer for the German electronics company Siemens, led, in effect, a double life. Alexandra R, a 30-year-old Berlin taxi driver, told the court she met Mr Brandes in October 1996 and they started a relationship with the intention of getting married and having children. She said: "He was the nicest man I ever met. He was always happy and joking."

But their relationship ended six months later after Mr Brandes "came out" as a homosexual. Alexandra R said she stayed in contact with him until three days before he disappeared in March 2001. She said: "I could not imagine that he deliberately went to that place to have his penis cut off and then be eaten."

Rene J, who lived with Mr Brandes in Berlin at the time of the killing, said he had no idea that his partner had gone to Rotenburg or that he harboured secret sexual desires: He said: "Inflicting pain was never an issue in our relationship. I didn't like it."

Rene J said that shortly before his death, Mr Brandes bought a new television and kitchen equipment for their Berlin apartment, yet after his death he discovered a will made out to him. He said: "I had no idea that my partner had gone to meet Meiwes."

The court also heard evidence about Miewes' early life. He attended school in Essen and lived alone with his domineering mother at a remote farmhouse.

Bertold Sieberg, 42, a former school friend, said that as a child Meiwes was overawed by his mother. Mr Sieberg said: "What she said was law. She was not like other mothers. He had to fetch and carry for her all the time."

Mr Sieberg said that when Meiwes was 15 he attended a party wearing his mother's wig and a flowered dress. He said: "He was so perfectly made up to look like a woman that no one recognised him."

Meiwes later told Mr Sieberg that he was confused over his sexuality. Mr Sieberg said Meiwes admitted to him at a party in 2000 that he was receiving e-mails from someone who wanted to know "whether he was ripe for slaughter".

Mr Sieberg said: "I got goose pimples. I thought, 'What kind of perverts communicate on the internet which each other like that?'''

Mr Sieberg said he became further concerned by Meiwes's behaviour after visiting his farmhouse together with his wife later that year after Meiwes' mother had died. "My wife told me how all the upstairs rooms were soiled with cat excrement,'' he said. "Other rooms were packed with old computers and even a safe, but his mother's room was immaculate. Her dressing gown and slippers were laid out next to the bed. It was as if she could return any minute,'' he said.

Mr Sieberg said Meiwes showed the couple a film on the internet depicting road accident victims with their arms and legs missing, which caused his wife to feel sick. A year later Mr Sieberg discovered that his childhood friend was the Rotenburg cannibal. "My whole body shook when I heard the news,'' he told the court.

The case continues. A verdict is expected on 30 January.

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