Sweeney Tod

Sweeney Tod
: The German canibal who killed and ate a man got a sentence of eight years. Dr. Jack Kervorkian, who helped dying people commit suicide, got 10 to 25.

(And, yes, I meant Tod; it’s a bilingual joke.)

  • Laura

    I had been under the impression both that the German “victim” in this case met up with the perp on the Internet because he had really *wanted* to be killed and eaten, and also that not all of Kevorkian’s, uh, people were actually terminal.
    I’m afraid I don’t have time right now to look up some links to back this up, but I had thought this was pretty common knowledge. If I’m mistaken, I apologize. However, if I’m not, it would affect how one would view both these sentencings.

  • Angus Jung

    No accounting for taste!

  • Another thing to consider is that Kervokian did it multiple times while the German guy only did it once.

  • Charlie

    It’s “dead”, Jim.

  • Something which may escape American observers: Germany’s criminal law system, like those of most continental European countries, is rooted in Roman law rather than Anglo-Saxon common law. A basic principle of Roman law is “nulla poena sine lege” (no punishment without a law [under which the act is forbidden]). And, evidently, nobody had ever thought of legislating a law against cannibalism.
    The defense had actually plead for a conviction for “assisted suicide” (6 months to 5 years). Had the victim not clearly consented to the bizarre act he would have been convicted of first-degree murder or possibly of “lust murder”. In the end he got convicted on the compromise charge of manslaughter.
    Don’t get me wrong: in my opinion the swine deserves nothing less than the death penalty (which he may yet get, extrajudicially, at the hands of his fellow inmates). But under German law as it stands it’s not clear to me he could have gotten convicted of anything above manslaughter.
    One of the advantages of continental European law systems is that they are generally less prone to litigitis. One of their disadvantages is that they are intrinsically incapable of dealing with the unforeseen. To cite a less macabre example: for a long time, software piracy was entirely legal in Belgium — since the antiquated copyright law only covered “instruments for mechanical music reproduction” [sic!] and judges had no latitude for ruling by analogy and thus creating a legal precedent.

  • Jeremy

    Yes, the victim apparently wanted to be killed and eaten.
    But it still baffles the mind that this was judged manslaughter, and not murder. (Well, it would be if it didn’t happen in Germany. That place is sick)
    I mean, the guy pretty much deliberately plotted this, placing an internet ad. Then he stabbed the guy to death. Doesn’t get more deliberate than that.
    Maybe his victim was nuts. Maybe he thought it was a joke. Even if he wanted to, that doesn’t make this right. Even remotely. We’ve all done things we regretted later.
    On a related note, why is it that women seem to have a thing for murdering cannibals? Besides the one defending him here, I used to know a woman who was pen pals with Jeffrey Dahmer. Apparently he had a lot of them (as do most serial killers).

  • Ben

    Jeremy, I completely agree, but Former Belgian is right. You cannot find a man guilty unless there is a law against it. In this case, I am not sure of the exact wording of the German murder statute, but am fairly confident that it does not cover cannibalism. Its never been an issue before, so why make a law for something that hasn’t cropped up?

  • Hm. Jeremy, I don’t know that “women” have a thing for serial killers — I certainly don’t have that on my list of “attractive qualities in a man” — but there are sick people everywhere, women as well as men. The women who fall in love with serial killers are probably operating under a number of psychological neuroses, or maybe they are just perverts who are turned on by murder.

  • angell

    There may not be a law against cannibalism, but there is one against murder–and you have to murder your ‘feastee’ before you eat. However, in this case, they both cut off the victim’s penis, roasted it, and feasted on it. I think the guy needs a padded cell more than he needs a barred one. There are people with death wishes–some actually get a humongous thrill of being AIDS chasers and finally succeeding in contracting the virus. This guy’s thrill was being eaten. He got his wish.

  • Don

    Former Belgian, I understand what you’re saying re: no law against cannibalism, but it strikes me that this would only prevent the German government from punishing him for eating the flesh of another human being. Since he _also_ killed the victim (by means that seem premeditated), I don’t understand why he wasn’t prosecuted for Murder One (or whatever the German version is). Any insight?

  • chris b

    A libertarian friend of mine insists that the state has no right to prohibit the consumption of human flesh as long as its voluntary on the part of everyone involved (including, obviously, the person being eaten). Ayn Rand, the principle of self-ownership, objectivism, all that stuff. It’s one example of why Libertarian political parties usually come to nothing.

  • Todd

    An old joke with a name like mine, the extra ‘d’ notwithstanding. Now, it becomes a gothic nickname and long remembered amongst the language students when your last name is “Galle’. Get out those German-English dictionaries. Thank goodness I’ve never taken to wearing black or studying philosophy.

  • >Since he _also_ killed the victim (by means that seem >premeditated), I don’t understand why he wasn’t prosecuted for Murder One (or whatever the German version is). Any insight?
    I found an English translation of the German “Strafgesetzbuch” (Penal Code) on a comparative law site:

    Section 211 Murder
    (1) The murderer shall be punished with imprisonment for life.
    (2) A murderer is, whoever kills a human being out of murderous lust, to satisfy his sexual desires, from greed or otherwise base motives, treacherously or cruelly or with means dangerous to the public or in order to make another crime possible or cover it up.
    Section 212 Manslaughter
    (1) Whoever kills a human being without being a murderer, shall be punished for manslaughter with imprisonment for not less than five years.
    (2) In especially serious cases imprisonment for life shall be imposed.
    Section 213 Less Serious Case of Manslaughter
    If the person committing manslaughter was provoked to rage by maltreatment inflicted on him or a relative or a serious insult by the person killed and was thereby immediately torn to commit the act, or in the event of an otherwise less serious case, the punishment shall be imprisonment from one year to ten years.
    Section 214, 215 (repealed)
    Section 216 Homicide upon Request
    (1) If someone is induced to homicide by the express and earnest request of the person killed, then imprisonment from six months to five years shall be imposed.
    (2) An attempt shall be punishable.

    IANAL (=I Am Not A Lawyer), but I can already see the defense strategy for arguing that StGB 211 does not apply: not treacherous (heimtueckisch) since with consent of victim yada yada, “cruelty” not proven since waited until victim slipped into unconsciousness from drugs and loss of blood, no monetary motives involved, not proven motivation was sexual yada yada, no crime being covered up blah blah, no danger to the public bullsh*t bulsh*t, …
    My current home country’s law system is based on English common law. Thank G-d for that.

  • PS: a possible prosecution strategy might have been that the victim was clearly legally insane, and therefore cannot have been considered consenting, and therefore the murder statute did apply. As obvious as it may seem to you or me that somebody who wants to be eaten is non compos mentis, I am not certain how well this would fit the German LEGAL definition of insanity ;-)

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