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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 11:47 GMT
Murky world of net cannibalism
The case of Armin Meiwes, the smiling, smartly dressed computer technician who killed and ate someone he met through the internet has shocked and fascinated Germany.

Day after day the court heard grisly revelations of Meiwes' life-long cannibal fantasies - and actions.

Armin Meiwes on the first day of his trial
The court heard grisly revelations of Mr Meiwes life-long cannibal fantasies
The case turned the spotlight on the murky world of cannibalism and extreme fetishism, particularly in a macabre corner of cyberspace.

The detective investigating the case told the court that he had stumbled upon a vast cannibal scene in Germany involving a number of professionals.

"We are talking about dentists, teachers, cooks, government officials and handymen," federal investigator Wilfried Fehl told the court. "These are people who come from the middle reaches of society."


Among the most startling revelations of the trial was Meiwes' revelation that he had been in internet contact with dozens of people who answered his ad seeking a young man who wanted to be eaten.

Bernd-Juergen Brandes
Bernd-Juergen Brandes "asked to be stabbed to death," according to Meiwes
Using the pseudonym "Franky", he inserted internet advertisements which read: "If you are 18-25 you are my boy, Franky from Germany" and "come to me, I'll eat your delicious flesh".

But, clearly, not all of those who replied wanted to die. Some would have been hoaxers, others would have wanted to play out their sexual fantasies.

Only four men - other than the one who was eventually eaten - were interested enough, the court heard, to travel to Meiwes' farm in central Germany to meet him.

None of them went through with the act.

But London-based hotel worker Dirk Moller testified that he had even got as far as being chained to the bed and marked out for butchery before changing his mind. He asked to be released and Meiwes complied.

German experts say that while there may be hundreds of people with "cannibalistic tendencies" in Germany, only a tiny proportion of those would be willing to see their fantasies through to their fatal conclusion as Mr Brandes apparently did.

'Just fantasy'

The kind of internet message boards where Mr Meiwes placed his own request are plentiful but the real cannibals on these sites appear to be hard to find.

Messages which request people for slaughter are often written off as jokes by other participants, many of whom are keen to stress that their interest in cannibalism is only a fantasy.

Meiwes' lawyer, Harald Ermel, advised those planning similar forays into the world of cannibalism to ensure both parties drew up a contract before any act took place.

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