‘Kobe cannibal’ dies in Japan 40 years after devouring Dutch student

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Issei Sagawa, famous as the “Kobe cannibal” for eating a Dutch student in Paris after killing her, died more than 40 years after the crime that shocked the country and made the murderer a media phenomenon.

Sagawa died of pneumonia on Nov. 24, aged 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 was a student at the Sorbonne University in Paris when, on June 11, 1981, he invited Renee Hartevelt to his home for dinner. There, he killed her with a shot in the back of the head and raped her. Afterwards, he butchered her and ate her body parts for three days. He took many photos of the 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.

Sagawa did not hide the crime and benefited from his fame, with a memoir called “In the Fog” (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”.

Psychiatric experts considered that he had a mental illness. Therefore, he was not brought to trial. The killer spent time in an institution in France and was later deported to Japan, where he was released in August 1985. Japanese authorities were never able to recover the files of his French judicial peers, who considered the case closed. So, Sagawa was free.

His transfer to Japan provoked indignation from the victim’s family, who promised to put pressure on public opinion so that “the murderer would never be released”.

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