Cannibal killer wants £1m for his memoirs

ONE of the most sensational and lurid court cases in recent history ends this week, but if the self-confessed cannibal at the centre of this extraordinary saga has his way the verdict will not be the end of the story.

Armin Meiwes, on trial in Germany for the murder of Bernd Brandes, who he mutilated, killed and ate, is seeking 1m for his memoirs, which he has chillingly promised will contain some of his favourite recipes for human flesh.

It is also understood there has been some interest from Hollywood about a movie deal - Meiwes has told his lawyer he would like Kevin Spacey to play him on film.

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However, legal sources close to the case, which is due to end on Friday, believe the three-judge panel are moving closer to convicting Meiwes for murder, which carries an automatic life sentence in Germany, meaning he would never benefit from any earnings he makes from his shocking story.

Meiwes is charged with "murder for sexual gratification" for the March 2001 killing of Brandes, a homosexual whom he met through internet chatrooms with names such as ‘Flesh and Bone’ and ‘Gourmet Cafe’. But he denies murder, claiming he was carrying out the last wish of Brandes.

During the trial a videotape showed Brandes apparently willingly having his penis cut off. Both tried to eat it, but found it "too tough" because Brandes had begun to feel so faint he could not wait for it to be fully cooked - in garlic, salt and pepper.

The tape, described by a judge last week as "perhaps the ultimate snuff video", ends with Meiwes plunging a knife into Brandes as he begs for forgiveness.

There appear to be some key facts which point to a conviction for the 42-year-old whether or not Brandes was a willing victim. The first is that the erudite, often smiling, cannibal was responsible for his actions and knew what he was doing, and secondly that he would probably kill again if found not guilty or sentenced on a lesser charge of assisting a suicide, which could see him freed within a year.

Constitutional law expert Hermann Grollmann, from Berlin, said: "I think they will sentence him for murder and I think they will believe he is not guilty of it," he said. "They have, quite simply, been presented with an erudite, often charming, psychologically sound individual who performed something another human being required.

"His victim left behind a will stating that he wanted to die at his hands and that he knew what he was letting himself in for. There is no ‘victim’ in the classic sense here. But society and its mores have to be satisfied: colleagues I speak with believe the judges will have no choice but to pin a murder conviction on him and subject him to 15 years or more of intensive therapy behind bars."

The four-hour videotape itself both supports and condemns Meiwes. While it shows the apparent pleasure of Brandes, 43, at the amputation of his own penis - "there, it’s finally gone!" he exclaims - his subsequent massive blood loss, which the cannibal did nothing to staunch, save for wrapping a towel around him, points, judges believe, to a calculating, almost demonic streak in him.

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Then there is the bloody end to Brandes, videotaped in ‘the butchery‘ of Meiwes’ farmhouse home near Kassel, where he later stripped 65lbs of flesh from his victim’s body, then froze and ate it over the course of the next few months.

The final images have Meiwes saying "forgive me" as he plunges a nine-inch knife repeatedly into Brandes’ throat. Meiwes’ lawyer, Harald Ermel, tried to argue that Brandes was virtually "brain dead" when this happened. This was seen as a bizarre defence ploy, paving the way for the prosecution to bring in its own experts to rebut it. Pathologists who sat through the video said there is a flicker of recognition in Brandes’ eyes as the knife goes in and out.

The trial has oscillated between black comedy and horrifying reality as Meiwes took the courtroom on a bizarre journey of kinky sex, lurid fantasies and Keystone Kop-style encounters with potential victims seeking to be killed and eaten.

After nurturing fantasies of slaughter since he was a boy, he began his internet trawl for a willing victim in 2000. Using the moniker Franky - the name of an imaginary friend he invented during his lonely childhood - he posted advertisements on English language websites visited by like-minded souls.

But the last stop on this odyssey was the videotaped mutilation and butchering of a fellow human being - e-mail no. 430 - who turned out to be the only person deranged enough to go along with Meiwes’ scheme.

"After I had done it," said Meiwes, "I felt hate, anger, happiness all at once. But I couldn’t regret it because this is what we both wanted.

"That is why I am not guilty of murder - I helped a man fulfil his biggest wish too."

There is little doubt that a murder conviction would leave the door open for Meiwes to appeal to Germany’s supreme legal body, the Constitutional Court. And there are constitutional lawyers who believe the cannibal would have a very good case.

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And if Meiwes escaped a life sentence his fortune could be made. Heyne Verlag, which publishes serial killer and cannibal killer books, has announced that it would publish Meiwes’ memoirs if they were available.

"With the level of interest in him we would most certainly be interested," said a spokesman.

And it is understood Stern magazine has offered 100,000 to the cannibal’s lawyers for first publication of his autobiography.


IF KEVIN Spacey star of American Beauty and The Usual Suspects, takes up the German cannibal’s challenge he would be following in a fine tradition of films tackling cannibalism.

Anthony Hopkins has become best-known for his portrayal of Dr Hannibal Lector, the brilliant and murderous cannibal from Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.

Delicatessen, set in France in a post-apocalyptic future, saw tenants of an apartment building lure strong, healthy men, planning to eat them to combat famine.

And in the black comedy, How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman, an explorer tries to ingratiate himself with a tribe of cannibals in the Brazilian jungle in a vain attempt to avoid becoming their next meal.

The 1968 horror film, Night of the Living Dead, shocked cinema-goers with its plot, which saw the dead rise with a hunger for human flesh after radiation from a fallen satellite caused them to wake.

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Alive dealt with the issue of enforced cannibalism, telling the true story of the Uruguayan rugby squad, whose chartered plane crashed in the Andes in 1972. Stranded in freezing temperatures some of the team eventually decided they would have to eat their dead comrades in an effort to survive. The story which made headlines worldwide when it became known.

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