Spiegel online reports that Armin Meiwes (known as Armin M. in the German articles) has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter (Totschlag). He’s been sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. It was not murder because the court did not establish ‘niedrige Beweggründe’ (base motives) as required under German law.
The photo used (DPA) has a bit of a Neanderthal look about it. Meiwes usually looks better than that.
The German lawyers always suggest a judgment and sentence. The defence counsel suggested Tötung auf Verlangen (mercy killing at the request of the person killed); the prosecution said it was murder, carried out for sexual titillation.
This is a decision that is bound to be reported abroad too. Let’s look at the BBC News version.
bq. The defence had sought a verdict of illegal euthanasia, carrying a far shorter sentence of six months to five years, on the grounds that it had been a “killing on request”.
But while rejecting the defence’s argument, the court also ruled that Meiwes had had no “base motives” for the crime and settled on a manslaughter verdict, as Judge Volker Muetze told the packed courtroom.
I suppose most people will understand that it is voluntary, not involuntary, manslaughter involved, but still, translating Totschlag simply as manslaughter seems sloppy to me (I may be alone here). Euthanasia also omits the idea of the victim’s request, but that is added at the end of the sentence.
bq. The case could make legal history in a country which has no laws against cannibalism.
Aargh! I am so tired of reading that Germany has no laws against cannibalism. How many countries have?
bq. Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Meiwes sat impassively as the verdict was read out in court.
Ah, but was his lawyer wearing a white tie?
bq. Prosecutors called Meiwes a “human butcher” who acted simply to “satisfy a sexual impulse” and had sought a life sentence for murder.
His defense argued that since the victim had volunteered to be killed and eaten, the crime should be classified a mercy killing, which carries a five-year maximum penalty.
I prefer ‘satisfy a sexual impulse’ (part of the German definition of murder) to the BBC’s ‘sexual murder’. But when did we British start spelling ‘defence’ with an S?
The Guardian presents an audio report. ‘ quite liked ‘killing on demand’. I don’t think anyone told the reporter how to pronounce ‘Meiwes’, which was coming over as ‘Mieweis’. The written report is somewhat similar to that of The Independent.
After consulting the New York Times, I abandoned the project, as I was getting the impression that all the reports were based on one account.