A secondary school teacher went on trial in Germany on Tuesday on charges of murdering a man and eating him in order to satisfy cannibalistic sexual desires.
The 41-year-old maths and chemistry teacher, named only as Stefan R under German privacy laws, is accused of luring Stefan Trogisch, an overhead power line technician, to his flat in the Berlin suburb of Pankow after they met on a gay dating website.
There prosecutors allege Stefan R murdered Trogisch before dismembering his body with a saw, eating part of it and hiding the remains around the city.
“The accused killed the victim because he sought sexual satisfaction through the killing and wanted to eat parts of the corpse,” the prosecution alleged on the first day of hearings.
There are no pleas in the German legal system, and Stefan R remained silent throughout the hearing, hiding his face from the cameras with a file.
Under German law defendants are free to make a statement if they wish, but counsel for Stefan R said he intended to say nothing “for the moment”.
The case is reminiscent of a notorious cannibal killing that took place in Germany in 2001. Armin Meiwes, a computer repair man dubbed the “Cannibal of Rotenburg” by the German press, is now serving a life sentence after he castrated, killed and ate a man he met over the internet. A video filmed by Meiwes appeared to show that he had his victim’s consent.
Although the German press have named Stefan R the “Cannibal of Pankow”, there is no indication his victim consented to his killing.
Stefan Trogisch is alleged to have gone unwittingly to his death, believing he was meeting Stefan R for a date.
The 44-year-old power line technician’s parents and brother were present in court as the indictment was read out against his alleged killer, and his mother is set to testify later in the trial.
“They want to know what happened to their son,” a lawyer for the family told the court. “They don’t expect Stefan R to justify himself or try to apologise. It is not excusable.”
Trogisch disappeared on September 6 last year after taking a taxi to Pankow, a suburb of northern Berlin. The last person to see him alive was a taxi driver who dropped him near Stefan R’s flat. It later emerged the two men had made a date after meeting online.
Two months later, body parts began to be discovered in the area, including a torso and thigh bone. Sniffer dogs led police from the body parts to Stefan R’s apartment. There investigators found a bone saw, an empty freezer with traces of human blood, and 25kg of sodium hydroxide, a chemical that can be used to dissolve human remains.
Prosecutors allege Stefan R made repeated Google searches for terms related to cannibalism and was involved in online “cannibal forums”.
Originally from a small village of just 400 people in southwest Germany, he moved to Berlin in 2011 and was a teacher at a local secondary school at the time of his arrest.
Lawyers for Trogisch’s family allege that Stefan R used the name “Masterbutcher79” online, a possible reference to Armin Meiwes, who was known as the “Master Butcher of Rotenburg”.
Yesterday’s hearing was adjourned after lawyers for the defence claimed they had not been given access to prosecution evidence on carsharing vehicles Stefan R is alleged to have used to hide the body parts.
A verdict is not expected until October. If found guilty Stefan R faces life in prison.
The trial continues.
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