A German federal court on Tuesday overturned a ban on a movie inspired by the case of a confessed cannibal, ruling that the artistic freedom of the filmmakers trumped the cannibal's personal rights.
Screenings of the movie "Rohtenburg" were banned in March 2006 — just before it was due to open in German theaters — after a lower court ruled that the film infringed the personal rights of Armin Meiwes.
Meiwes was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2006 in a cannibal case that both fascinated and appalled Germany.
The makers of "Rohtenburg," directed by Martin Weisz and starring Thomas Kretschmann as a cannibal named Oliver Hartwin, argued that Meiwes' case did no more than provide inspiration for the movie.
'Public interest in information'
Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that the producers' right to artistic freedom outweighed Meiwes' personal rights, adding there was "a public interest in information" on the case.
The film did not misrepresent the facts of the case, which were in any case widely known, the court statement said.
Meiwes argued unsuccessfully during his trial that the 2001 death of Bernd Juergen Brandes should be classified as a mercy killing. He claimed that Brandes answered his Internet posting seeking a young man for "slaughter and consumption." He said Brandes wanted to be stabbed to death after drinking a bottle of cold medicine to lose consciousness.
Meiwes captured the killing on video.
It was not immediately clear whether the movie will now be screened in German theaters.