The Siberian tundra where Alexei Gorulenko ate his childhood friend Andrei Koruchkin
The Siberian tundra where Alexei Gorulenko ate his childhood friend Andrei KoruchkinGetty

Russian fisherman Alexei Gorulenko admitted eating the body of a friend but walked free from court.

During a trial in the Russian Sakha Republic, Gorulenko described how he devoured Andrei Koruchkin after they became lost with two other men in the remote Siberian tundra when their 4x4 car plunged through the ice of a frozen river.

The prosecution alleged that Koruchkin was beaten to death before being dismembered and eaten, the Siberian Times reported.

Forensic science examinations of the recovered body parts showed that strips of flesh had been removed.

Gorulenko admitted eating the body but denied murder. "He died by himself," he said. "He froze to death. Only after that did we start eating him."

However, the post mortem shows Koruchkin suffered three blows to the head, one apparent knife wound, and multiple fractures

In a bizarre statement to the court, Gorulenko said it was "not because I was hungry – I had another reason." But he refused to give any alternative explanation.

Olga Kurochkin, the widow of the eaten man, reacted angrily to the court's decision.

"I am shocked with this verdict, and with the work of investigator who dealt with the case. Nobody expected it to end like this, that a cannibal walks free with a suspended sentence. I just can't understand what the judge was thinking about when produced such a verdict for Gorulenko," she told the Siberian Times.

She said previously: "Can you imagine what I have left? One foot with toes, one finger, and the back of his skull with some hair. This is it.

"This is all I have left from the man I loved. Having just these remains, how can I say goodbye to him? I have got almost nothing to cry over... sorry, I can't think about it, I am losing my mind with this.

"I never expected such horror could come into my life. It has ruined not just my life, but also the lives of all our relatives, and we are a big family."

She added: "Together with the remains of my husband there were also found the bones of animals. If they could kill animals, why would they need to try eating a human body?"

Prosecutors had sought 10 years for Gorulenko. Russian law does not count cannibalism as a crime.

Kurochkin's widow wants the law changed. "Now I want these cannibals to be punished. I fear our police are not keen to investigate this case properly. Our law does not say a word about cannibalism, it is not a crime."