German cop awaits verdict in cannibal killing
01 April 2015, 15:14
Dresden - A verdict is expected on Wednesday in the trial of a German former police officer who allegedly killed a willing victim he met on a website for cannibalism fetishists.
Detlev Guenzel, 57, stands accused of murder driven by sexual lust and disturbing the peace of the dead although there is no evidence that he ate any part of his victim.
A regional court in the eastern city of Dresden was to rule in the macabre case which captured international headlines when it broke in 2013.
State attorneys have sought 10 and a half years in prison for the defendant, a trim, soft-spoken father of three adult children who neighbours described as friendly, generous and unfailingly polite.
Lawyers representing the family of the deceased, 59-year-old Polish-born Wojciech Stempniewicz, have requested a 15-year sentence, usually the maximum in a murder case.
Prosecutors said they stopped short of this demand because Stempniewicz said he wanted to die.
Guenzel went on trial in August for allegedly killing Stempniewicz, a business consultant, at the defendant's home, a bed-and-breakfast inn in the mountain town of Hartmannsdorf-Reichenau near the Czech border, in November 2013.
He then allegedly cut his body into small pieces and buried them in his garden.
In the process, he made a grisly home video of the events that prosecutors say he intended to use as pornography.
The men came across each other in October 2013 on a website for slaughter and cannibalism fantasies billed as the "#1 site for exotic meat" and boasting more than 3 000 registered members.
A click on a box allows participants to say if they would like to go beyond the realm of the imagination.
Cause of death?
Guenzel, a three-decade veteran of the police force, retracted a confession he made to detectives soon after Stempniewicz's death in which he said he killed him by cutting his throat.
His defence team argued that Stempniewicz, who had long expressed a death wish, hanged himself in Guenzel's custom-designed "S&M studio" in his cellar before Guenzel took a knife, then an electric saw, to the gagged-and-bound man.
Investigators testified during the six-month proceedings that they could not definitively determine the cause of death due to the state of the corpse.
Guenzel was married to his male partner for 10 years in a civil union at the time of the events, but said they divorced before the trial.
The case exposed a murky online scene of gory sexual kinks that usually remain pure fantasy.
Other chat partners from the cannibalism site testified that Guenzel had backed out of their arranged plans when they travelled to meet him.
‘Sink so low’
Guenzel and Stempniewicz had had extensive contact online and by telephone before finally arranging the fatal date on 4 November.
Their emails bore the title "Schlachtfest", the German word for a country feast after the slaughter of a pig. Guenzel called himself "Caligula 31", Stempniewicz logged on as "Heszla-Longpig".
The 50-minute video Guenzel made was played during the trial and showed the defendant at one point covered in blood as he mutilated the corpse, muttering, "I never thought I would sink so low."
The defendant reportedly broke down in tears when the footage was shown, telling presiding judge Birgit Wiegand: "I don't claim I'm entirely innocent - it was the biggest mistake of my life. But I am not a murderer."
Guenzel's defence attorney Endrik Wilhelm, who called for an acquittal, expressed fears during the trial that massive media attention had created a bias against his client.
He noted that most reports drew parallels with the infamous case of German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who admitted to killing, mutilating and eating the flesh of a lover in 2001 after meeting him on the Internet via an advertisement looking for a "slaughter victim".
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006.
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