DRESDEN, Germany (AFP) - A court sentenced a German former police officer to eight years and six months in jail on Wednesday for killing a willing victim he met on a website for cannibalism fetishists.
In the macabre case which captured international headlines, presiding Judge Birgit Wiegand said the defendant, Detlev Guenzel, was guilty of "murder motivated by sexual lust and disturbing the peace of the dead".
The defendant, wearing a bright pink dress shirt and cargo trousers, sat impassively with his arms folded as the verdict was read out to the packed courtroom in the eastern city of Dresden.
Guenzel, 57, went on trial in August over the killing in November 2013 of Polish-born Wojciech Stempniewicz, a business consultant, at the defendant's home, a bed-and-breakfast inn in a mountain town near the Czech border.
The court found that Guenzel had cut the body into small pieces in a slaughter chamber he built in his cellar and buried them in his garden. But there was no evidence that he ate any part of his victim.
State attorneys had sought 10 and a half years in prison for the defendant, a trim, soft-spoken father of three adult children whom neighbours described as friendly, generous and unfailingly polite.
He smiled briefly at his daughter before taking his seat in the courtroom to hear the verdict.
Lawyers representing the family of Stempniewicz, 59, had requested a 15-year sentence, usually the maximum in a murder case.
But prosecutors said they stopped short of this demand because Stempniewicz had long harboured a sexually charged death wish, a line of argument that Wiegand said the court had accepted.
"He wanted to be killed to make his fantasy come true," she said during a two-hour-long reading of the verdict.
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.
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 had hanged himself in Guenzel's custom-designed "S&M studio" before Guenzel took a knife, then an electric saw, to the gagged-and-bound man.
Investigators testified that they could not definitively determine the cause of death due to the state of the corpse.
However Wiegand sharply rejected the notion Stempniewicz had suddenly changed his mind about wanting to be killed.
"You don't change such preferences from one day to the next," she said.
"The notion he would have said, 'then I'll just kill myself - the main thing is that I'll be slaughtered' is simply improbable." 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.
Guenzel and Stempniewicz had had extensive contact online and by telephone before finally arranging the fatal date on Nov 4.
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".
A 50-minute video Guenzel made was played during the trial and showed him at one point covered in blood as he mutilated the corpse, muttering, "I never thought I would sink so low." He reportedly broke down in tears when the footage was shown, telling Wiegand: "I don't claim I'm entirely innocent - it was the biggest mistake of my life. But I am not a murderer." Wiegand said the court found the expression of faint regret seen in the video made it unlikely Guenzel would repeat such an act.
She said this differed from 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.