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Court sentences Berlin cannibal to life in prison

January 7, 2022

A 42-year-old teacher has been found guilty of murdering a man and dismembering his body in September 2020 to fulfill his "cannibalism fantasies," the Berlin court ruled.

Stefan R. holds a folder in front of his face as he sits in court in Berlin
The presiding judge in the case described the brutal murder as a 'despicable act'Image: Jörg Carstensen/dpa/picture alliance

A court in the German capital on Friday sentenced a teacher to life in prison in a cannibalism-motivated murder case that shocked the nation.

The brutal details of the September 2020 killing made headlines in Germany for months. The ruling on Friday makes it nearly impossible for the convicted to be released early from prison.

What did the court say?

The 42-year-old defendant, identified in line with German privacy laws as Stefan R., was found guilty of murder and also of disturbing the remains of the dead, the Berlin state court said.

In their ruling, the judges said Stefan R. committed the murder "in order to fulfill his cannibalism fantasies."

"What you have done is inhuman," said presiding Judge Matthias Schertz, adding that the case was "despicable."

Lawyers and judges stand in a Berlin court house to hear the verdict in a murder case
The prosecution in the case argued for a life sentence, while the defense team argued for a non-guilty verdictImage: Jörg Carstensen/dpa/picture alliance

In Germany, life sentences carry a minimum of 15 years in prison, after which the prisoner can typically apply for parole.

But in this case, the state court found that there was a "special gravity of the defendant's guilt." The designation means Stefan R. will not likely be released from prison after 15 years.

What happened in the case?

Stefan R. was convicted of killing a 43-year-old man in Berlin on September 6, 2020.

The two met on a dating website and agreed to meet up for sex at Stefan R.'s apartment.

According to prosecutors, the teacher then drugged his victim and sedated him. Stefan R. then slit the man's throat and cut off the man's genitals — with the intention of eating them.  

Afterward, Stefan R. cut up the body, hiding the parts in various areas in the Berlin neighborhood of Pankow.

Weeks after the murder, police uncovered human bones in the district. They later confirmed that they belonged to the missing 43-year-old man.

Subsequent investigations eventually led authorities to Stefan R.'s apartment, where they found further human remains, blood and tools that were likely used in the killing.

Stefan R. did not speak much during the murder trial, except to deny the murder charges.

rs/sms (dpa, AFP)