State seeks tougher penalty for German cannibal

10th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 January 2006, HAMBURG - Prosecutors will be seeking life imprisonment this week for the self-confessed German cannibal who killed a man and ate his body parts in a grisly crime recorded on video nearly five years ago.

10 January 2006

HAMBURG - Prosecutors will be seeking life imprisonment this week for the self-confessed German cannibal who killed a man and ate his body parts in a grisly crime recorded on video nearly five years ago.

Armin Meiwes, 44, is already serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison term for manslaughter, but prosecutors say his conviction should be upgraded to murder. The case revealed a world of bizarre sexual urges that were discussed in online "chat-rooms".

A higher court said the crime had most of the features of murder including gratuitous violence and ordered the retrial which starts Thursday in the German city of Frankfurt.

Meiwes, a computer expert and former army officer, is expected to tell the Frankfurt court how a Berlin engineer answered his online advertisement for someone who would like to be eaten. The men met at Meiwes' home near the small country town of Rotenburg.

A new bench of judges will need strong stomachs as they hear the whole story from the beginning again and watch the Meiwes video of the act. They will also once again investigate how his personality became so warped. Most of the same witnesses will be called.

Evidence by psychologists at the first trial made it impossible to find Meiwes insane: the experts said he understood his own acts.

Legal scholars say a murder conviction is likely this time, now that Germany's highest court has set down the law on the unique case.

In essence, it said the victim's alleged consent was not relevant if Meiwes' motive for the killing was sexual gratification and to be able to commit a subsequent crime of defiling a dead body.

The defence case, again conducted by lawyer Harald Ermel, will be that Meiwes performed a kind of assisted suicide for the victim. The same prosecutor, Marcus Koehler, will present the state's case.

A German criminologist, Arthur Kreuzer, believes it would be better if the state could simply place Meiwes in preventive custody without having to consider what Kreuzer views as unconvincing distinctions between murder and manslaughter.

The cannibal showed little sign of repentance at the first trial. He said he would have killed again if he had found a willing victim.

The case has inspired horror books, a movie and even a rock song for a taste that could be described as the "culture of death".

The unauthorized movie is reportedly set for release in Germany on March 9 and is entitled "Rohtenburg", similar, but with a letter H added, to the name of the small town where Meiwes carried out the bizarre act in a ramshackle manor house.

It was directed by Martin Weisz, 39, a German-born maker of music videos, according to German film distributor Senator.

Ermel said Meiwes had not consented to the making of the film and will seek an injunction to stop it because his client resented his portrayal as a "bestial killer". Court action may also be taken against the German rock band Rammstein over its song "Mein Teil".

Widely sold in both the United States and Germany, the song referred to the Meiwes case. The lawyer says Meiwes plans to write a book about himself, but the project was only at an early stage.

DPA

Subject: German news

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