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Cannibal sparedmurder verdict

30 January 2004

KASSEL – In a case which at once horrified and fascinated Germany, a court in Kassel Friday issued a guilty verdict against self-confessed gay cannibal Armin Meiwes, but on a charge which could leave him be a free man in a few years’ time.

The court found the well-mannered and soft-spoken defendant guilty of manslaughter, giving him an eight-and-a-half year prison term with possibility of parole.

The prosecution had been seeking a life sentence on a charge of murder for sexual gratification in the case in which the 42-year-old defendant admitted he had killed, dismembered and partially devoured his victim, Bernd-Juergen Brandes, at Meiwes’ home in the picturesque village of nearby Rotenburg in March 2001.

But Meiwes, whom psychologists attested was perverted but legally sane enough to take responsibility for his actions, had claimed that he was only carrying out Brandes’ wish, telling the court at one point that he had given his victim “a nice and worthy death”.

The defence, seeking acquittal or at most five years in prison with parole, insisted he was guilty of nothing more than “assisted suicide” because Brandes was a masochist with a castration and mutilation fetish.

In seeking the middle path, the judge described the killer and his victim as “two deeply psychologically disturbed people who both wanted something from the other”.

After flashing a smile for cameras ahead of the proceedings, the defendant sat impassively as the judge read out the verdict and sentence. Tight-lipped as always and with square jaw firmly set, there was no expression in his hazel eyes.

Meiwes claimed that Brandes, a Berlin computer engineer he had become acquainted with via an internet gay chat line, had requested to be castrated, killed and eaten. The deed was carried out in front of a running video camera, with some of that material used as evidence in court.

With two psychologists testifying that Meiwes, though perverted, was sane in the legal sense of being responsible for his acts, it meant that Meiwes would not be locked up in a mental hospital.

Now, with a conventional ruling of manslaughter, Meiwes could be allowed to go free after serving only part of his prison term.

In a bizarre twist to what has been a bizarre story from the start, both the prosecution and the defence had argued that the amiable 42-year-old defendant was completely sane – in the legal sense of the word.

In a chilling final statement to the court, Meiwes promised never to kill again, but nonetheless reminded the court that his victim had begged to be “slaughtered” and that he had given him a “nice and worthy death”.

Addressing the court last week, a tight-lipped but otherwise unmoved Meiwes stressed that he had only given victim Bernd-Juergen Brandes what he had asked for.

“I want the court to understand that I only did what I did because he expressly wanted me to do it,” Meiwes said. “And in doing so I gave him a nice and worthy death.”

As he has from the outset, Meiwes in no way disclaimed responsibility for the March 2001 killing, clearly hoping for imprisonment with chance of parole – as opposed to being shut away forever in a mental institution.

Meiwes said he met Brandes via a gay internet chat room where Meiwes had a running advertisement saying he was looking to get to know people “to gobble up”.

Hundreds of people responded, according to police, and Meiwes actually met about half a dozen persons, most of whom recoiled when they realised he was serious about killing and eating them. Others he rejected, he said, because they “did not look appetising”.

Then along came Brandes. Meiwes said he arranged via the internet to met his victim at the Kassel train station on 9 March 2001, and that they discussed the impending “slaughter” in detail on arrival at his home in the village of Rotenburg.

Brandes, a computer chip developer at Siemens corporation in Berlin, had made out his will and sold most of his possessions prior to taking a day off from work to go to meet Meiwes.

On arrival, the pair bought over-the-counter pain-killers at a pharmacy and then went to Meiwes’s rambling farm house, where Brandes agreed to have sex with Armin M. but afterward had second thoughts about going through with the rest.

Meiwes said he drove his guest back to the train station where he bought a ticket to Berlin. But, changing his mind again, the victim decided to remain, and they returned to the house in Rotenburg.

In grisly detail, investigators were told how the suspect severed the subject’s penis and how the two men cooked and ate it. The victim then placed himself in a bathtub as he bled to death. His final request was for Meiwes to wait until he lost consciousness from loss of blood before slashing his throat.

Meiwes made a videotape record of the entire ordeal and transferred the images to a CD-ROM. Investigators who have seen the images subsequently underwent psychological counselling.

Dismembering the body, the murderer packaged the flesh in freezer bags for later consumption and disposed of the bones on his property. He said he defrosted and ate the contents over a period of months.

Asked why, he told investigators, “I got a kick out of the idea of having another person inside me.”



Subject: German news