Federal court orders retrial for German convicted in cannibal case

A federal court on Friday ordered a retrial for a German who was convicted last year of killing and eating another man, giving prosecutors a chance to secure a tougher sentence.

Prosecutors had appealed last year's ruling by a court in the city of Kassel, which sentenced Armin Meiwes to 8 1/2 years in prison for manslaughter. They argued that he should be given a life sentence for murder.

The Federal Court of Justice overturned the original conviction and sent the case to a state court in Frankfurt for retrial.

The federal judges rejected another appeal from Meiwes' defense lawyers, who argued that the case should be classified a mercy killing on grounds that the victim had consented.

During his first trial in Kassel, Meiwes confessed in detail to the March 2001 killing of 43-year-old Bernd Juergen Brandes at his home in the nearby town of Rotenburg.

He said Brandes, who traveled from Berlin after answering Meiwes' Internet posting seeking a young man for "slaughter and consumption," wanted to be stabbed to death after drinking a bottle of cold medicine to lose consciousness.

"Bernd came to me of his own free will to end his life," Meiwes said. However, he said he now regrets the killing.

"I had my big kick and I don't need to do it again," he said. "I regret it all very much, but I can't undo it."

A grisly video Meiwes made of the act was shown to the court in Kassel. A doctor testified that Brandes died from loss of blood and that the medication, along with a half-bottle of liquor and 20 sleeping pills he took beforehand, could not have lessened his pain.

Several experts testified that Meiwes was fit to stand trial and was not mentally ill.

Prosecutors have painted Meiwes as a butcher who acted simply to "satisfy a sexual impulse," and the federal judges ruled that the lower court failed to give sufficient consideration to that argument in rejecting the murder charge.

No date was set for the retrial.

Police tracked down and arrested Meiwes in December 2002 after a student in Austria alerted them to a message Meiwes had posted on the Internet seeking a man willing to be killed and eaten.

INGE TREICHEL, Associated Press Writer

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