The beginning of the trial of Armin Meiwes has been widely reported in both German and English publications. This means I always cast my eye over the English versions to see how they describe German legal institutions and law, what vocabulary they use.
The question arises as to whether this would be more likely to be murder in English law than in German law. An Oasis, for example, wonders
bq. His defence revolves around the fact that his victim actually agreed to be killed and eaten and his defence team argue that at worst he is guilty of illegal euthanasia – “killing on demand” which carries a maximum sentence of five years. Presumably however (I’m out on a limb here) even although consent was given that would not mitigate the fact that there was actus rea and mens rea.
Looking at the English definition of murder, however, this doesn’t seem to have been committed ‘under the Queen’s peace’. However, I can’t see any defence working. Insanity would be pleaded. Serial killers may fit the legal definition of insanity, but they aren’t usually allowed to get away with it. The German definition of murder is even weirder than the English one. It’s closely followed in the Criminal Code by circumstances that are less than murder, including killing at the victim’s request.
Meanwhile, there is also a language-learning aspect involved, according to the Guardian report:
bq. Brandes spoke good English, he said, and since eating him his English had improved.