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German court rejects cannibal's appeal for suspended sentence

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BERLIN (Reuters) – A German engineer who killed and ate a willing victim in a case that shocked the country must remain in prison even though he has served 15 years for murder, a court ruled on Friday.

The Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt endorsed a lower court’s decision to reject an appeal by Armin Meiwes to have his life sentence converted into a suspended sentence.

In a tale that horrified Germany, Meiwes found his victim, Bernd-Juergen Brandes, over the Internet. Brandes, an IT manager, had posted an advert for someone to “obliterate his life and leave no trace”.

Brandes travelled by train to meet Meiwes in the western town of Rotenburg in March 2001. There, Meiwes videotaped himself severing Brandes’ penis with a knife before both men tried to eat it.

Bleeding profusely, Brandes fell unconscious. With the video recorder still rolling, Meiwes laid him out on a bench, kissing him on the lips before plunging a knife into his throat.

The Frankfurt court said its ruling may not be appealed.

It was asked to review a decision by a lower court in Kassel to reject Meiwes’ appeal for a suspended sentence, arguing that experts had advised he was not fit for life outside prison.

He suspended the victim on a meat hook and froze 30 kg of flesh in parcels and later ate some with cabbage and potatoes.

A German court had initially convicted Meiwes of manslaughter and sentenced him to eight years in jail in 2004.

But in 2006 a Frankfurt court overturned that conviction and threw out the defence argument that Meiwes had acted on his victim’s request, a crime similar to euthanasia which in Germany carries a maximum prison term of five years.

That Frankfurt court had said Meiwes was psychologically ill but fully aware of his actions.

In October 2008, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Germany’s top court, ruled that Meiwes must serve a life sentence for murder.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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