Closing Arguments Given in Cannibal Trial | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 26.01.2004
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Closing Arguments Given in Cannibal Trial

The prosecutor in the German state of Hesse has called for a life-long sentence for confessed cannibal Armin Meiwes, who admitted to slaughtering and eating a 42-year-old man from Berlin in spring 2001.


Armin Meiwes says he deeply regrets killing a man and eating him.

Closing arguments were given Monday in a Kassel regional court where Germany’s "Cannibal of Rotenburg" is on trial for killing a man, eating his genitalia and then freezing the rest of his body to consume in later repasts.

"The desire to slaughter a man and eat him up was the paramount motive for his action," said prosecutor Marcus Köhler. "He slaughtered his victim like a piece of livestock and treated him as an object of fancy."

Meiwes’ attorney, Harald Ermel, has said that the cannibal can only be prosecuted on a charge of assisted suicide, which would carry a maximum prison term of five years. His victim, identified in the case only as Bernd-Jürgen B., volunteered to be killed after answering an Internet ad placed by 42-year-old Meiwes seeking "young men for real slaughter and consumption." But prosecutor Köhler said Meiwes had been aware that his victim was suffering from a serious personality disorder and was unable to think rationally.

A human butcher

The trial has proven to be one of the most riveting and salacious to take place in Germany in decades. Among the evidence in the case is a video in which Meiwes films himself slaughtering his victim in a scene straight out of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," complete with meat hooks, a cage and a butcher’s table.

In resting his case on Monday, Meiwes said he "regretted all that I have done" and asked for God’s help. Even if his cannibalistic fantasies continued, he said, he would not kill any more people, adding that he only killed his first victim because it was his expressed wish to die.

But prosecutor Köhler said the trial had proven that Meiwes murdered his victim for his sexual gratification and to fulfill his cannibalistic yearnings.

A cold-blooded killer?

A psychiatrist testifying in the case on Friday described Meiwes as fit to stand trial. "There’s no evidence of a psychological disorder," said George Stolpmann. He added that the 42-year-old had a "schizoid personality" and has problems forming relationships. "What we have here is an inability to have warm and tender feelings toward others," he said.

In December, Meiwes said he was not acting out of sexual desire when he killed Bernd-Jürgen B., but rather out of loneliness and the desire for the brother he never had. I wanted "someone to be part of me," he told the court.

Prosecutors, however, are painting an altogether different picture, describing the act as a power move aimed at building his self-worth. According to Köhler, Meiwes later used his video for sexual satisfaction and to admire his work as a "human butcher."

A verdict is expected on Friday.

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