German cannibal: 'I've had the kick of a lifeltime'
Ernest Gill | January 28, 2004
KASSEL, Germany —
The most macabre case in recent German jurisprudence comes to an end Friday, with legal experts unable to predict whether self-confessed gay cannibal Armin Meiwes will be locked away
forever - or will walk away a free man.
Self-confessed German cannibal Armin Meiwes (R) speaks with his lawyer Harald Ermel (L) at the beginning of a court session in Kassel 26 January 2004.|
Photo: AFP/Uwe Zuchi
In a bizarre twist to what has been a bizarre story from the start, both the prosecution and the defence are arguing that the aimiable, good-looking 42-year-old defendant is completely sane.
The prosecution, seeking life imprisonment, insists he is guilty of the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of a gay Berlin computer systems expert, Bernd Juergen Brandes, in March 2001.
The defence, seeking acquittal or at most five years in prison with parole, insists he is guilty of nothing more than "assisted suicide" because Brandes was a masochist with a castration and
Either way, Meiwes is unlikely to be committed to a mental institution -much to the bewilderment of the general public in Germany, who have been following this case with a mixture of
disgust and morbid fascination.
Meiwes himself said in a final statement to the court this week
that he feels regret but no real remorse. He regrets having been
caught. He feels no remorse for what he did.
"I took his life, and I readily admit that," the tight-lipped
man with the hazel eyes, receding brown hair and square jaw-line
told the court matter-of-factly.
"But I want the court to understand that I did nothing that ran
contrary to his express wishes," he said of the 39-year-old man he
met via a gay Internet chat room in early 2001. Meiwes was looking
for someone to "gobble up". Brandes was looking for someone to
carve him up.
"He wanted it so badly, it was his heart's desire," Meiwes said
of Brandes' death wish.
"And if I hadn't been so stupid as to get back on the Internet
and look for other men, I would have taken Bernd's and my secret
with me to my grave," he said.
But - without the slightest apparent trace of remorse - he told
the court, "I've had the kick of a lifetime. You don't need to
worry that I'll ever need to do this again."
Bolstering his argument was expert testimony from a psychiatrist
who testified that Meiwes, while criminally perverted, is legally
Dr. Georg Stolpmann said Meiwes suffered from a serious
psychological abnormality, but he was responsible for his actions
in the legal sense of sanity.
"It was a premeditated, thoroughly planned and meticulously
executed act," Stolpmann testified. "The conscious thought
processes of this man's mind were in no way impaired.
Meiwes was acutely aware of the legal ramifications of his
actions, which is why he placed such importance on getting his
victim's willing consent. Thus, his mental competency is not in
Stolpmann said the defendant had subsequently written to an
acquaintance: "It is an incredible feeling to have ultimate power
over another man and to slice him up into serving portions."
"For Meiwes, the goal of all this was what he called 'to get the
biggest kick of my life', as he has said repeatedly," Stolpmann
said. "He wanted absolute power over another person and was
planning from the start to commit other such crimes."
Embarrassingly for Germans, this case revives memories of the
infamous Butcher of Hanover, a man who lured scores of young men
and boys to their deaths over a five-year period after World War I.
Fritz Haarmann, a real-life meat market owner in Hanover,
Germany, took advantage of post-war economic chaos to prey on
street urchins and jobless young men. Promising them money for sex,
he killed and dismembered them - then sold their meat in his
Disposing of the corpses by turning them into cutlets and
sausages, he got away with his crimes until 1924 when a youth
escaped and tipped off police. Investigating officers were stunned
by piles of blood-stained clothes and a back sewer full of skulls.
Convicted of 27 deaths (though he proudly claimed more than 5),
Haarmann was sentenced to death and while in prison awaiting
decapitation he gave a tell-all statement. Like Meiwes, he said
slaughtering and eating his victims gave him a sexual kick.
German filmmaker Fritz Lang adapted the Butcher of Hanover story
for the screen, though he was constrained to tone down the most
grisly details for mainstream audiences.
Peter Lorre was cast as the serial killer. There were no male
prostitutes or toy boys, instead this time the victims were sweet
The finished movie was entitled "M" and became one of the
classic films of all time for making conceivable something so
Meiwes, meanwhile, says he is considering a number of offers
from publishers for his life story.
"There are lots of other people out there like me, at least 500
in Germany alone, I'd estimate," he said - a claim supported by the
fact that 40 gay men responded to his chat line "gobble up"
"They need to hear what I have to say so they can get the
professional help I never did," Meiwes said. –Sapa-dpa
Related links stories
Cannibal could kill again, German court told [20/01/2004]