Cannibal could kill again, expert tells German court

January 20, 2004

Armin Meiwes at his trial in Kassel, Germany yesterday
Photo: AFP/DDP/Pool/Uwe Zucchi
KASSEL, Germany — A self-confessed gay cannibal is "mentally sound" but could commit the same act of cannibalism again if given the opportunity, an expert witness testified before a court in Germany Monday.

Sexual behaviouralist psychiatrist Dr Klaus Beier told the court in Kassel that 42-year-old computer technician Armin Meiwes showed no signs of mental incapacitation.

"The defendant is mentally sound and has an above-average intelligence and displays no psychiatric illnesses," Beier testified.

During examinations of Meiwes "I have never found any indication of psychological disturbance", he said.

However, Beier said Meiwes, whose fascination with cannibalism had developed from an early age, was a loner whose cannibalism fantasies were a way of "being close" to men. Sexual excitement was irrevocably linked to the idea of cutting up men.

Beier said therapy would not cure the defendant of his sexual deviation and there was every danger he would accept the opportunity of killing and eating another victim if a volunteer became available.

But therapy could help Meiwes establish a close relationship with another person without the wish to consume human flesh, he said.

The testimony could help the defence's contention that Meiwes killed, dismembered and partially devoured a gay lover with the victim's consent and as an act of "assisted suicide".

Because Germany has no law against cannibalism, Meiwes is charged with murder "for sexual satisfaction" and "disturbing the peace of the dead".

His defence is pressing for a lesser charge of "killing on demand" which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence.

The defence has actively chosen not to portray Meiwes as mentally deranged or incompetent. If found to be criminally insane, Meiwes could be incarcerated at a mental institution the rest of his life.

If, however, he is found guilty of murder, he would go free after serving his sentence, since there is no death penalty in Germany.

Earlier, the court heard testimony describing the defendant as a "cheerful" and "helpful" workmate.

A former co-worker of Meiwes said he had never displayed any untoward or unusual behaviour at the information technologies company where they had both worked in the 1990s.

"Armin was always a very cheerful co-worker, and very helpful," the witness told the court. "He always had a ready smile and an encouraging word."

Beier told the court Meiwes' victim, 43-year-old Berlin engineer Bernd-Juergen Brandes, had been a sexual masochist since his youth.

Brandes had wanted Meiwes to dismember his penis and carve him up as penance for a feeling he was partly to blame for the death of his mother.

The victim had kept his feelings a secret from friends of both sexes and attempted to fulfil his sexual needs with male prostitutes, he said.

On Friday a witness told the court that Brandes had had a "castration fetish" and had begged his sex partners to mutilate his genitals.

The trial continues. A verdict is expected at the end of next week. –Sapa-dpa

Related links stories
Meiwes is 'mentally sound', court hears [20/01/2004]
Meiwes's parents unaware 'Hansel & Gretel' obsession [19/01/2004]
German cannibal had over 200 'applicants', court told [19/01/2004]
German cannibal victim offered money for penis bite [13/01/2004]



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