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Alleged cannibal tried for murder

Meiwes makes German legal history by appearing in court for alleged cannibalism.
Meiwes makes German legal history by appearing in court for alleged cannibalism.

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CNN's Stephanie Halasz has more details on the trial. (December 3)
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Crime, Law and Justice

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A German computer technician accused of killing, dismembering and eating the flesh of a man who agreed to the deal over the Internet has gone on trial for murder.

Armin Meiwes, whose trial started on Wednesday, is charged with murder as no crime of cannibalism exists in Germany. The case is the first of its kind in the country.

Dressed in a dark suit, Meiwes -- from Rotenburg-an-der-fuld, in central Germany -- appeared relaxed as he sat next to his lawyer at the Kassel state court.

Meiwes admitted to killing the victim and said there was "hundreds, thousands" of people who wanted to eat humans or be eaten.

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

"With every piece of flesh I ate I remembered him," Meiwes told the judge. "It was like taking communion."

The story was splashed all over the tabloids last year when it broke, and the 42-year-old defendant has spoken to the press, reportedly saying "sorry."

The defense is expected to argue that the victim, a 43-year-old computer technician identified only as Bernd Juergen B., from Berlin, agreed to the macabre event.

"He told me he had had the desire since he was a child to be slaughtered and eaten," Meiwes said. "He was very intelligent and I didn't see any sign that he was disturbed."

The defense is believed to be seeking a charge of killing on demand, which carries a maximum five-year sentence if proven, rather than murder which holds a possible life sentence.

The crime is alleged to have taken place at this 18th century house.
The crime is alleged to have taken place at this 18th century house.

Police tracked down and arrested the suspect in December last year after a student in Austria alerted them to an advertisement Meiwes had allegedly placed on the Internet seeking a man willing to be killed and eaten.

"The German public on the one hand is repulsed, but of course, on the other is fascinated," said CNN's Berlin Bureau Chief Stephanie Halasz.

The alleged crime at the 18th century manor house happened in March 2001, prosecutors say.

A verdict from the court, which is scheduled to hear 38 witnesses, is expected in February.

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