Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Cannibals `flourish' in Germany

`PEOPLE FOR SLAUGHTER' The gruesome case in which a man was stabbed, fried and eaten was not an isolated one, an investigator told a Berlin court Monday

THE GUARDIAN , BERLIN

The detective who investigated Germany's infamous cannibal case told a court on Monday that he had stumbled upon a vast cannibal scene in Germany -- involving several dentists and other professionals.

Giving evidence in the trail of Armin Meiwes, the 42-year-old computer expert who killed and ate another man, federal investigator Wilfried Fehl Monday said the gruesome case was not an isolated one.

His officers had discovered a flourishing cannibal scene in Germany, he said, involving middle-class professionals, as well as manual workers.

"We are talking about dentists, teachers, cooks, government officials and handymen," he told the court, during the second day of Meiwes' trial for murder.

He added: "These are people who come from the middle reaches of society."

Fehl said that despite their endeavors German detectives had not yet been able to track down any more cannibal victims, following the arrest of Meiwes last December. Meiwes's act was "a thing" that was "practically unimaginable" even for "experienced criminologists" like him, he admitted.

"It leads us to where thinking stops," he said. Earlier, the court heard how on March 10, 2001, the computer expert stabbed, fried and then digested Bernd Brandes, a 43-year-old Berlin engineer he met through the Internet. Brandes travelled by train to Meiwes' rambling timbered farmhouse in the German town of Rotenburg after answering an advert requesting "people for slaughter."

Before the killing, he agreed to have his penis cut off -- which both men tried to eat.

On Monday a relaxed, smiling Meiwes said that it was wrong to describe his crime as murder since his victim had agreed in advance to be killed.

He was merely guilty of "mercy killing" or "assisted suicide," he said, adding: "I accept this is taboo. But I can justify what I did to God and the world."

The computer expert said his biggest regret was that he hadn't got to know his victim better before stabbing him to death in the early hours of the morning. "I didn't want to kill or hurt anybody," he said.

Following his arrest, detectives discovered an e-mail from Meiwes to a friend, in which he confessed he hoped to find another "victim" soon -- because "flesh is everything."

A detective who interviewed Meiwes after he was caught said he appeared to have few regrets. He was even proud of his crime.

The detective added: "He was happy to be able to tell someone his story."

On Monday, the judge hearing the case ordered the press and public to leave court so that a gruesome video made by Meiwes of the killing could be shown.

The video, lasting four and a half hours, showed the mutilation, death and slaughter of the victim, the judge Volker Mutze explained, as well as a sexual offence. Finishing his testimony Monday, Meiwes pointed out that after stabbing Brandes he hadn't killed anybody else.

He added, however: "I would have done, though, if the opportunity had presented itself."

The trial continues.

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