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Retrial set for German cannibal

Prosecutors want tougher sentence

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CNN's Walter Rodgers looks at the case which has shocked Germany.
Berlin (Germany)

(CNN) -- A self-confessed cannibal convicted of killing and eating a man after advertising for a willing victim on the Internet will face a new trial after a German appeals court ruled his conviction on manslaughter charges was too lenient.

Armin Meiwes, a former computer technician from Rotenburg-an-der-fuld in central Germany, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for killing another computer technician, a 43-year-old man identified only as Bernd Juergen B. from Berlin. The sentence was handed down in January 2004.

Prosecutors pushed for a murder conviction in Meiwes' trial, but defense attorneys said the lesser charge would be more appropriate, claiming the victim's death was more like euthanasia than murder.

The defense showed a videotape of the March 2001 incident, in which the victim made no attempt to escape and was a willing participant.

Meiwes cut off part of the victim's body before the pair ate it together, authorities have said. He then cut up the victim, stored his body in a freezer and ate it over the following months.

Friday's ruling by the second criminal division of the Federal Court Karlsruhe sends the case back to a jury court of the criminal division of the district court in Frankfurt, according to a statement.

"The conviction only because of manslaughter, not because of murder, does not bear up to judicial examination," the statement said.

The crime was qualified for the higher charge, the court said, because it was committed to gratify sexual desires and in order to facilitate another offense.

The lower court, the appeals court said, had ignored the fact that Meiwes apparently videotaped the murder "to be used later as object for sexual fantasies and sexual satisfaction."

Meiwes was arrested in December 2002 after a student in Austria showed police an advertisement Meiwes had placed on the Internet, seeking a man willing to be killed and eaten.

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