Cannibalism Case Revisited

The original article from Spiegel online can be read here.

September 18, 2007

CANNIBALISM CASE REVISITED

Book Uncovers Secrets of Maneater Meiwes

The forensic expert called to examine the willing victim of German cannibal Armin Meiwes has written a book about his most bizarre case. He recalls his horror at seeing the four-and-a-half-hour video Meiwes made of the killing and disembowelment.

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Armin Meiwes, the “Cannibal of Rotenburg,” during his trial.

Forensic expert Manfred Risse will never forget the day he was called to examine the contents of Armin Meiwes’ freezer. The German cannibal (more…) had killed a man who had begged to be devoured, chopped him up into meal-sized portions, and eaten about 20 kilos (44 pounds) of him.The 2002 killing and subsequent trials made global headlines, and Meiwes is assured a prominent place in the dark annals of murderous perversion. Risse, 53, deputy head of the forensic institute in the central German city of Giessen, has just written a book about the case and has spoken about it for the first time in an interview with Focus magazine.

About examining a severed foot, Risse writes: “Meiwes had placed it on a plate, stuck a knife and fork in it, added sauce, took a picture of it and posted it on the Internet.” Risse also had to scrutinize around 30 packets of flesh, some of them labelled. “One read ‘Neck Filet, 10/03/01,’ and other labels reminded me of supermarket labels, for example ‘Minced Meat With Sauce.'”

Risse recalls the horror he felt when he watched the four-and-a-half hour video Meiwes made of the killing and subsequent butchering.

“I got sweaty hands for the first time in my career; shivers ran down my spine” said Risse. “I’ve been doing this job for 20 years, have carried out 5,000 autopsies and seen more than 30,000 corpses. In terms of nauseating and repugnant sights, the cannibal film burst the boundaries of what I had seen to that date.”

Meiwes, a computer repair man, had placed advertisements on the Internet seeking men who were willing to be “slaughtered.” Bernd Brandes, a 43-year-old computer engineer from Berlin, responded, and the killing took place in Meiwes’ rambling half-timbered house in the town of Rotenburg.

The infamous video was shown in court, but the media and public weren’t allowed to see it. One scene shows Brandes, already suffering from severe loss of blood after having his penis severed at his own insistence, saying: “If I’m still alive tomorrow morning, we’ll eat my balls.”

“It was a horrific scene,” recalls Risse. “I couldn’t believe that a man so seriously hurt could say a thing like that. It sounded like a bad comedy. But it was real.”

The video also shows Meiwes hanging up the body from a meat hook and cutting it up. “It was evident that Meiwes had no anatomical knowledge whatsoever. He couldn’t distinguish between the colon and the small intestine, didn’t know where the liver was and was astonished at the color of the meat. He said: ‘I thought it would be lighter. One learns from experience.'”

Risse’s book “Last Supper of the Murderers,” which can only be sold to adults, goes on sale in Germany on Sept. 20. He said he wrote it to show the public what really happened. “There’s always been cannibalism,” Risse said. “But the fact that someone wanted to have themselves be killed, slaughtered and devoured, is unique in the world.”

Meiwes had his sentence increased from eight and a half years to life in a 2006 retrial (more…) after the prosecution appealed against the initial verdict for being too lenient.

May 09, 2006

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RETRIAL DELIVERS TOUGHER SENTENCE

German Cannibal Gets Life For Eating Willing Victim

Armin Meiwes, the German cannibal whose case of extreme sado-masochism made worldwide headlines, has had his sentence increased from 8 1/2 years to life imprisonment. In a retrial, he was convicted of murder even though his victim wanted to be killed.

Armin Meiwes awaiting his verdict in the Frankfurt courtroom on May 9.

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Armin Meiwes awaiting his verdict in the Frankfurt courtroom on May 9.

Armin Meiwes, the German cannibal who killed, sliced up and ate a Berlin computer engineer begging to be devoured, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday. The sentence came following a retrial of a shocking case that gained worldwide attention because of its gory details.Meiwes, a 44-year-old computer repair man, had originally been sentenced to 8 and a half years for manslaughter but that verdict was overturned by Germany’s federal appeals court which deemed it too lenient and ordered him to be retried on a murder charge.

The judge ruled that Meiwes had killed to satisfy his sexual urges. The Frankfurt court ruling means Meiwes could be eligible for parole after serving a mandatory 15 years in jail.

Meiwes’s defence lawyers had argued that he should face the lesser conviction of “killing on demand” — a form of illegal euthanasia — and said they planned to appeal against the new verdict. Legal experts have said the case presents the justice system with a dilemma because the victim, Bernd-Jürgen Brandes, had wanted to be eaten.

For witnesses at the trial, it was hard to imagine the quietly spoken, polite and surprisingly ordinary-looking Meiwes hanging up the victim’s body from a meat hook in the slaughtering room he had set up in his home, disembowelling him and cutting him up into meal-sized portions ready for storage in his freezer.

Skull in the freezer

Yet that is what he did, filming the process with a video camera in an orgy of gore that marked the culmination of an obsession with cannibalism since puberty. He defrosted Brandes portion by portion in the following months and turned him into gourmet meals. He kept the skull in a freezer and buried other parts in his garden.

“I wanted to eat him but I didn’t want to kill him,” said Meiwes during the four-month trial.

“He was close to me with every bite,” Meiwes recalled, adding that Brandes had encouraged him to seek out other slaughter victims. “Bernd told me he didn’t want to be on his own in the freezer for long,” said Meiwes, who did indeed keep advertizing for fresh victims on the Internet until 18 months later, December 2002, when police arrested him after receiving a tip from a Web user.

Meiwes and Brandes had contacted each other through the Internet where Meiwes had been seeking “fit men for slaughter”. They met in March 2001 in Meiwes’s rambling, half-timbered house left him by his domineering mother in the central German town of Rotenburg.Skip the next two paragraphs if you’re squeamish. Brandes asked Meiwes to emasculate him and drank half a bottle of Schnapps and painkilling tablets to cope with the pain. Meiwes obliged and they both tried to eat Brandes’s penis together.

After Brandes became unconscious from loss of blood, Meiwes took him to his slaughtering bench and — this is the main reason for Monday’s murder conviction which was widely expected — killed him by cutting his throat with a butcher’s knife.

“Everybody has right to decide about own life”

Meiwes told the court he regretted what he did. But he added: “Everybody has the right to decide themselves about their own life and their body.” His lawyers pointed out that Brandes had in e-mails, Internet chat forums and telephone conversations clearly expressed his desire for his life to be ended, and for him to be “nullified”.

Meiwes said he has written his memoirs in jail and wants to show people with similar fantasies “that it can never bring them fulfilment.” Police estimate there are 8,000 to 10,000 people in Germany alone who are using Internet chat rooms to share fantasies about eating a person or being eaten.

Psychiatrists who examined Meiwes said he was severely disturbed but sane and fit to stand trial.

During the retrial, Meiwes told how he had fantasized about eating his schoolmates and how he would record televison documentaries about post-mortems. He would also barbecue dolls, and would form human limbs out of marzipan and eat them wedged in bread rolls. The fantasies became more intense after the death of his mother in 1999 left him alone in her large house where he began to surf the Internet.

cro/dpa/Reuters/AP

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