German court sentences gay man to eight years for cannibalism
January 31 2004 1:00 AM ET
A German court on Friday found self-confessed gay cannibal Armin Meiwes guilty of killing, dismembering, and partially devouring another man in March 2001. But it didn't hand him the death penalty. Meiwes received 8 1/2 years in prison with the possibility of parole, reports German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The defense had sought acquittal, or at most, five years in prison with parole, by insisting that Meiwes was guilty of nothing more than "assisted suicide" because the victim was a masochist with a castration and mutilation fetish. In the ruling, the judge described the killer and his victim as "two deeply psychologically disturbed people who both wanted something from the other." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that 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 Bernd-Juergen 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 videocamera, 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 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." Addressing the court last week, Meiwes stressed that he had only given 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." Meiwes said he met Brandes in an online gay 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 people, most of whom recoiled when they realized he was serious about killing and literally eating them. Others he rejected, he said, because they "did not look appetizing." Then along came Brandes. Meiwes said he arranged via the Internet to meet his victim at the Kassel train station on March 9, 2001, and that they discussed the impending "slaughter" in detail on arrival at his home in the village of Rotenburg.