May 9, 2006

Court sentences German cannibal to life for murder

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German court on Tuesday handed down
a life sentence for murder to Armin Meiwes, the German cannibal
jailed for killing a man and feeding on his flesh, overturning
a previous manslaughter conviction.

Meiwes, 44, was on trial for the second time after
Germany's top criminal court ruled his 2004 conviction was too

Meiwes severed the penis of computer engineer Bernd-Juergen
Brandes in a bizarre pact hatched over the Internet. Both men
tried to eat the severed organ, but without success. After
heavy bleeding, Brandes finally fell unconscious.

Believing him to be dead, Meiwes laid his victim on a bench
and plunged a knife into his neck while videotaping what he was
doing. He later froze parts of the body and ate some of it.

The Frankfurt court ruling means Meiwes could be eligible
for parole after serving a mandatory 15 years in jail.

Last week, prosecutors demanded Meiwes' original eight-year
manslaughter sentence be overturned and that he be jailed for
life, arguing that he could murder again and this time without
his victim's agreement.

Prosecution lawyers argued that Meiwes had killed to
satisfy his sexual urges but his defense team said he had acted
on his victim's request, a crime similar to euthanasia which in
Germany carries a maximum prison term of five years.

During the trial, the court heard how Meiwes made contact
with Brandes over the Internet and then met him at his home in
the western town of Rotenburg in 2001.