Japanese cannibal who was never arrested dies at 73

Issei Sagawa, known as the “Cannibal of Kobe” for eating a Dutch student in Paris after killing her, died more than 40 years after the crime, which shocked the country and turned the murderer into a media phenomenon.

Sagawa died of pneumonia on Nov. 24 at age 73 and only his relatives attended the funeral, his younger brother and a friend said in a statement.

The note was published by the publisher that published his memoirs in 2019, written by Sagawa’s brother.

Issei Sagawa was a student at the Sorbonne University in Paris when, on June 11, 1981, he invited the Dutch Renee Hartevelt to dinner at his home.

There, he killed her with a shot in the back of the head and raped her. Then he quartered her and ate various parts of her body for three days. He took many photos of the gruesome crime.

Later, he tried to dispose of the remains in two abandoned suitcases in the Bois de Boulogne park, on the outskirts of Paris.

A few days later, he was located and arrested, thanks to a police appeal for help from witnesses.

“Eating that girl was an expression of love. I wanted to feel inside myself the existence of a person I love”, he confessed after arrest.

Psychiatric experts deemed him mentally ill and he was not brought to trial. He spent some time in an institution in France before being deported to Japan, where he was released in August 1985.

Although the Japanese authorities considered that he did not need to be hospitalized, they were never able to recover the files of his French judicial peers, considering that the case was closed. So, Sagawa was free.

His transfer to Japan sparked outrage from the victim’s family, who vowed to put pressure on Japanese public opinion so that “the murderer would never be released.”

Sagawa did not hide his crime and benefited from his fame, with a memoir called “In the Fog”, in which he described the murder in detail.

He has also recounted his obsession with cannibalism in various interviews and in a 2017 documentary called “Caniba”.


© Agence France-Presse

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