Prosecutors seek 30 years for French 'Hannibal Lecter'

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

French prosecutors on Thursday demanded a 30-year jail sentence for a prisoner dubbed France's "Hannibal Lecter", on trial for killing his cellmate and eating part of his lung.

Nicolas Cocaign has admitted to beating and stabbing Thierry Baudry with a pair of scissors before smothering him with a rubbish bag in the prison in the northwestern city of Rouen in January 2007.

The 39-year-old testified that he cut open Baudry's chest with a razor blade and ripped out the lung, eating part of it raw before frying the rest with onions on a camping stove in his cell.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Pelsez demanded a 30-year term with no possibility of parole for 20 years, arguing that Cocaign was sane when he committed the horrific crime and should be held accountable.

"A man who plunges into horror is not necessarily afflicted with madness," said Pelsez, echoing the view of a majority of psychiatrists who testified that Cocaign should be sentenced to jail despite his mental problems.

The prosecutor stressed that Cocaign was not only charged with murder but with torture and committing barbaric acts.

"This not the usual type of violent act that might take place during a scuffle or a fist fight," said Pelsez.

Cocaign, whose face is tattoed with a skull, told the court on the trial's opening day on Monday that the murder might have been avoided if prison authorities had not ignored his repeated appeals for psychological help.

"No one was listening to me," the detainee said. "I made several appeals for help, saying I was a man capable of being dangerous. I took action, and then they took me seriously."

The defence is due to make final arguments later Thursday and a verdict is expected in the evening.

Cocaign has drawn comparisons with the serial killer character Hannibal Lecter in the best-selling novel and movie "The Silence of the Lambs."

© 2010 AFP

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