Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Tuesday, 9 May 2006 14:31 UK

Profile: Cannibal Armin Meiwes

Armin Meiwes on the first day of his trial
A woman who knew Meiwes described him as "very childlike"

Before the media dubbed him "The Cannibal of Rotenburg", Armin Meiwes led an outwardly quiet life, described by one woman he befriended as a friendly and sensitive person.

But in the prosecutor's words, the well-spoken 42-year-old computer technician "slaughtered his victim like a piece of livestock and treated him as an object of his fancy".

The details of the case were re-examined after a federal court ruled that his conviction for manslaughter should be overturned because the sentence - eight-and-a-half-years in jail - was too lenient.

In the previous trial, prosecutors say he should have been jailed for life for murder, while his defence team maintains the death was a mercy killing as the victim was a willing participant.

Meiwes grew up with his mother in a large house in the German town near Kassel.

A former school friend recalls her as a domineering figure who scolded him in public.

Living alone with her son until her death, she constantly intruded, accompanying him on dates and even going on troop outings in the early 1980s when he was serving in the German army.

Brother figure

Meiwes claimed in court that his lonely childhood had led him to create "Franky" - an imaginary brother who listened to him.

At the start of his trial in December 2003, Meiwes said his motive for killing and eating his victim, Bernd Juergen Brandes, was born from a desire for this younger brother he never had - "someone to be part of me".

In eating Mr Brandes, he finally got his "big kick", he told his trial.

According to a psychiatrist who testified at the trial, Professor Georg Stolpmann, Meiwes was incapable of showing "warm and tender feelings towards others".

Meiwes insisted throughout the trial that the death had been part of a mutual pact rooted in sado-masochistic homosexual fantasy.

But he said he hoped other people with similar fantasies would seek help before it was too late.

Investigators found Meiwes had been in internet contact with more than 200 people who shared his fantasies while the cannibal himself claimed there were thousands more like him.

Professor Stolpmann described Meiwes as "extremely smug and self-assured" and as having a "schizoid personality" - but said he detected no indication of mental illness.

Cannibalism: A modern taboo
02 Dec 03 |  Europe

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