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Gay cannibalism trial continues in Germany

Gay cannibalism trial continues in Germany

A Berlin engineer eaten by a man he met on the Internet once offered to pay someone to bite off his penis, a German court trying his killer for murder heard Monday. A former sexual partner of the dead man, Bernd-Juergen Brandes, said he had been offered up to $2,600 to bite off Brandes's penis. However, another gay former lover of Brandes's said he had never expressed a death wish or any desire for pain, adding, "We were happy together." The mixed testimony came at the murder trial in Kassel of Armin Meiwes, a 42-year-old who admits killing, carving up, and eating Brandes in March 2001 but denies that it was murder. Meiwes insists Brandes wanted to be consumed and that he allowed his penis to be cut off, which they fried with the intention of eating. But the former lover said he and Brandes, who had been a couple since 1999, were happy and had made holiday plans together. The 27-year-old told the court his partner had shown no sign of depression or suicidal tendencies and did not appear to have any problems. The witness, who said his last memory was of Brandes sleeping in bed, said he was a quiet type who had not expressed any death wish or masochistic yearnings. He said he still could not fathom the reason behind the 43-year-old's death but said that Meiwes had since written to him apologizing for his actions. In separate testimony, an ex-girlfriend depicted Brandes as "an easygoing domestic type." Prosecutors acknowledge that Brandes appeared to have been an accomplice in his own death and consumption, all of which was videotaped by Meiwes, but they say the accused is still guilty of murder. Another witness, a former school friend of the accused, said Meiwes's mother was a domineering figure who hectored him and called him "minchen," which is a word that derives from the old German for servant. He said a drunk Meiwes had once admitted having Internet contact with another man "who is always asking me whether he is ripe for slaughter." That was a year after the death of Brandes. The witness said Meiwes, after he had sobered up, asked him to forget the conversation. Investigators have searched Meiwes's computer and his Internet contacts but have so far found no trace that he was involved in any other death. He faces life in prison if convicted of murder but only up to five years if found guilty of the lesser charge of "killing on demand" that his lawyers are pushing for. Cannibalism is technically not a crime in Germany.

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