German cannibal should be retried for murder, appeal court told

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The Independent Online

Germany's self-confessed "Cannibal of Rotenburg" was at the centre of an appeals court battle after federal prosecutors demanded he face retrial for killing, butchering and eating a male victim he met on the internet in 2001.

Germany's self-confessed "Cannibal of Rotenburg" was at the centre of an appeals court battle after federal prosecutors demanded he face retrial for killing, butchering and eating a male victim he met on the internet in 2001.

Armin Meiwes, 43, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight and a half years imprisonment in March last year for killing and consuming parts of Bernd Juergen Brandes, 41, a gay computer engineer he lured to his 20-room farmhouse through an advertisement on the Web.

Judges had ruled that Meiwes had not enjoyed killing his victim, but had simply gratified a "perverted desire to consume a sympathetic man [to] become part of him".

But prosecutors told Germany's appeals court in Karlsruhe that proceedings against Meiwes should be reopened so he could be sentenced for murder, leading to a possible life sentence.

"For the accused, it was only about fulfilling his fetish for human flesh," the federal prosecutor Lother Senge said. "His crime sank to the lowest possible level in moral terms. His victim was reduced to a mere object as a result of his perverted desires. There were several aspects of the case which imply murder and these have been ignored. He will kill again if he gets the chance."

But Meiwes' lawyer, Harald Ermel, said he was asking the appeal judges to reduce the conviction from manslaughter to "man-slaughter on request", a charge similar to mercy killing. "My client was simply fulfilling the wishes of his victim," Mr Ermel said. "Before the killing, the two men reached an agreement, a sort of pact. One man wanted to kill and eat, the other wanted to be killed. Meiwes was the man who satisfied desires. [The victim] was the driving force."

During the trial, judges described Brandes as "deeply disturbed" after several witnesses testified he was obsessed with having his penis either bitten off or severed with a knife. "For him it was the ultimate kick, " the judge said. "He fully realised that the consequence was death."

Video film of the killing, shot by Meiwes , showed how he cut off Brandes' penis. Both fried the organ in oil and ate it. Brandes bled to death. Meiwes cut up his body, froze it, and consumed the flesh over a few months, before police were tipped off and arrested him in 2002.

Ruth Rissing-van Saan, the presiding Karlsruhe judge, said the appeals court could take several days to decide on any retrial. "We have a mass of evidence to deal with," she said.

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