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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 19:38 GMT
Cannibal fights new legal battles
By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

"He's calm, contrite and he's feeling confident about the retrial," said Harald Ermel, the lawyer of Armin Meiwes, the self-confessed cannibal.

Armin Meiwes
Meiwes has been described as a "model prisoner"

On Thursday, Armin Meiwes is back in court, facing a new trial in Frankfurt.

In January 2004, he was sentenced to eight and half years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter.

During the first trial in the German city of Kassel, Meiwes confessed to eating and killing a victim he met via the internet.

It's been one of the most extraordinary trials in German criminal history.

As Armin Meiwes returns to court on Thursday, his defence lawyers are fighting a separate legal battle.

They have filed lawsuits in Germany and the US to stop the release of a new Hollywood film based on Meiwes' story.

False picture

The film, which is called "Butterfly, A Grimm Love Story" in the US, and "Rotenburg" in German, is due out in cinemas in Germany on 9 March.

"Armin Meiwes is portrayed as a monster, as a cold-blooded killer in the film," said Harald Ermel in an interview with the BBC. "The film gives a false picture of my client."

Defence lawyers say the film was made without Armin Meiwes' consent or approval - and could prejudice the new trial.

When you meet him, he seems quite normal. You have to keep reminding yourself of the acts that he committed."
Guenter Stampf, journalist

Since the first trial, Meiwes has become a subject of great popular interest.

As well as the Hollywood film, a German production company is preparing a documentary about the cannibal case.

Guenter Stampf is a journalist and film-maker from Hamburg who visited Armin Meiwes in jail on several occasions last year.

"When you meet him, he seems quite normal," Guenter Stampf told the BBC.

"You have to keep reminding yourself of the acts that he committed. When I met him, I wanted to try to find out what kind of person he is."

Mr Stampf says he has received permission from Meiwes to film interviews with him in prison for the documentary, which is due to be released later this year.

'Highly dangerous'

Last April, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court upheld an appeal by prosecutors and ordered a retrial on murder charges.

During the first trial, the court heard how Meiwes met his victim, Bernd Juergen Brandes, a computer engineer, after putting an advert on the internet for someone who wanted to be killed and eaten.

Bernd Juergen Brandes
Brandes: Dismembered and eaten after replying to Meiwes' advert

The meeting between the two men took place at Meiwes' home near the town of Rotenburg on the 9th of March 2001.

The gruesome acts in which Brandes was killed, and parts of his body were eaten by Armin Meiwes, were filmed on video.

The judges and lawyers were shown the video in the first trial behind closed doors.

Prosecutors say Armin Meiwes is a "highly dangerous defendant" and should not be released from prison as early as 2008.

They maintain that he should have been charged with murder, not manslaughter.

A new panel of judges in Frankfurt will hear evidence from witnesses and the new trial is expected to last until at least March.


SEE ALSO:
German cannibal to face retrial
22 Apr 05 |  Europe
Appeal over cannibal verdict
02 Feb 04 |  Europe
Profile: Cannibal Armin Meiwes
30 Jan 04 |  Europe
Murky world of net cannibalism
30 Jan 04 |  Europe


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