March 3, 2006

German court bans cannibal film

BERLIN (Reuters) - A court ruled on Friday that a film that
closely mirrors the true story of a German man who killed and
ate a willing victim cannot be shown in Germany because it
violates the rights of the real-life cannibal.

"Rohtenburg" ("Butterfly -- A Grimm Love Story") was set to
open in Germany on March 9 but a state court in Kassel upheld a
complaint from Armin Meiwes, dubbed "The Cannibal of
Rotenburg," that the film unjustifiably infringed his personal

Meiwes, a computer repairman, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years
in prison in 2004 for killing and eating a man he met through
an Internet chat room.

The plot of the film, whose name is a play on the German
word for "raw" ("roh") and the name of Meiwe's home town,
closely matches the details of his bizarre and grisly crime,
which transfixed Germany and the world.

Although he killed only one victim, his crime appeared more
perverse than other cases of cannibalism because his victim
made it clear that he wanted to be eaten and even played an
active part in the undertaking.

Meiwes argued that the film could prejudice a retrial of
his case, which began in January after Germany's Supreme Court
ruled that his original sentence was too lenient.

The upper state court in Kassel ruled that Meiwes's
personal rights outweighed the right to artistic freedom
pleaded by the film's U.S. production firm, Atlantic

Meiwes's lawyer claimed the film portrayed his film as a
"beastly murderer" and, mixing truth and fiction, was a
travesty of the actual incident.