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Stephanie Halasz: Cannibalism 'gruesome'

Stephanie Halasz
Stephanie Halasz

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A German computer technician admitted to killing, dismembering and eating the flesh of a man who agreed to the deal over the Internet.
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BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A German man, Armin Meiwes, is on trial after allegedly killing a computer technician he met through the Internet and eating his body parts over several months. Prosecutors charged him with murder, but the defense says the victim wanted to die.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz spoke Wednesday with anchor Carol Costello about the macabre case which has riveted the German public.

HALASZ: This is indeed a gruesome crime that a west German man goes on trial for today. What we know is that about almost three years ago, a 42-year-old put an ad on the Internet looking for a victim he could murder and then eat.

And incredibly enough, a 43-year-old Berlin computer specialist answered the ad and traveled to rural western Germany. What happened then is almost beyond the imaginary.

The two men went to get painkillers. And then the alleged murderer cut up -- cut off a body part of the victim and they -- and we should caution viewers here -- they ate it together before the alleged murderer killed his victim with a knife. He then cut up the body, put it in the freezer and subsequently ate part of it over the coming months.

Now police only found out about it after the man put another ad out looking for another victim.

COSTELLO: And, Stephanie, they know this because wasn't the whole episode put on tape?

HALASZ: Yes, exactly. That's not how they found out about it, but it is true that a camera was rolling and it may get shown as part of evidence. But they found out about it through another ad that the alleged murderer subsequently put on the Internet and someone in Austria found it and alerted the police.

COSTELLO: So, I guess one of the intriguing questions about this [is] if this man answered the ad wanting to be killed, is it murder?

HALASZ: Well, that is exactly what is at stake here. He is, the 42-year-old man, Armin Meiwes, is accused of murder because there is no charge such as cannibalism in Germany. And the prosecution is pleading murder.

But the defense lawyers say this was killing with consent, which could bring the alleged murderer much less time. That would carry a maximum of five years in prison, while murder would get him a maximum life sentence in prison, a minimum 15 years.

So the prosecution and the defense are looking at two different aspects here. Of course, the defense is saying the victim wanted to be killed. He knew that he was going to get killed. He went there with his wish to get killed and that is what happened. And basically the alleged murder was only a tool in carrying this out.

The prosecution says the murderer wanted to kill even before he put out this ad.

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