'Cannibal' trial opens in France

Nicolas Cocaign at the Rouen courthouse - 21 June 2010 Cocaign said his requests for psychiatric help were ignored

A French convict has gone on trial for murdering and eating part of the body of his cell-mate.

Nicolas Cocaign admitted to a court in Rouen that he killed his victim before cutting him open and removing part of his lung, which he then ate.

His lawyers said his repeated requests for psychiatric help before the attack had been ignored.

Cocaign, 39, faces life in prison if convicted for the murder of Thierry Baudry in 2007.

Prosecutors say Cocaign beat Baudry before stabbing him with a pair of scissors and then suffocating him with a plastic bag.

He then allegedly cut him open, removing a rib and pulling out part of his lung, mistaking it for Baudry's heart.

Before the trial, he had told investigators that he wanted to eat his victim's heart in order to take his soul.

"I made several appeals for help, saying I was a man capable of being dangerous. I took action, and then they took me seriously," he told the court.

The court also heard a summary of Cocaign's life, from his adoption at age three to his troubled youth and scrapes with the law.

He was serving a sentence for attempted rape at the time of Baudry's murder. A verdict is expected later this week.

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