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Japanese man who raped, killed, ate woman, but not jailed, dies in Japan- Read full story


New Delhi: A Japanese man, who killed a Dutch student after raping and eating her body, died in Japan at the age of 73. The man, identified as Issei Sagawa, also known as “Kobe Cannibal” was reportedly never jailed for conducting the spine-chilling crime. Sagawa allegedly died of pneumonia on November 24 and was given a private funeral attended by close relatives. His brother and a friend, however, said that no public ceremony is planned as of now.

The spine-chilling crime 

The horrendous crime of escorted in 1981, when Sagawa, studying in Paris invited Dutch student, Renee Hartevelt to his home. He then shot her on the neck, raped and killed her. Later, in the course of a few days, he consumed some of her body parts and attempted to dispose off the rest in the Bois de Boulogne park. He was later arrested and confessed his crime to the police. 

However, in 1983 he was deemed unfit for trial by French medical experts and was initially held in a psychiatric institution before being deported to Japan in 1984.

“Character Anomaly” of the criminal 

The victim’s family pledged to get the criminal prosecuted in Japan so that “the murderer would never go free.” On his arrival to Japan, he was ruled sane by Japanese authorities who called him having a “character anomaly” which did not require hospitalisation. However, Japanese authorities were unable to get his case files from their French counterparts, who considered the case closed, leaving the murderer to walk free.

Sagawa became celebrity

Sagawa made no secret of his crime and capitalised on his notoriety, including with a novel-like memoir titled “In the Fog” in which he reminisced about the murder in vivid detail. The murder was also the subject of Japanese novelist Juro Kara’s “Letter from Sagawa-kun”, which won the country’s most prestigious literary prize in 1982.

Despite the heinous details of the murder, and his lack of remorse, Sagawa gained a level of celebrity and regularly gave interviews to domestic and international media in the years after his return. He was featured in a magazine for his paintings of naked women, appeared in a pornographic movie and produced a manga comic book that depicted his crime in graphic and unrelenting detail.

The sordid fascination with the murder even saw it referenced by the Rolling Stones and The Stranglers in songs.

No remorse for crime, embraced cannibalism

Sagawa lived out his final years with his brother, reportedly in a wheelchair after a series of health problems including a stroke. But he displayed no apparent sign of remorse or reform, telling Vice in a 2013 interview as he looked at posters of Japanese women: “I think they would taste delicious”.

He also recounted details of the incident and his ongoing obsession with cannibalism in interviews and a 2017 documentary, “Caniba”. The film’s directors spent months with Sagawa and his brother, and described themselves as “conflicted” about the experience. “We were disgusted, fascinated, we wanted to understand,” said co-director Verena Paravel.

(With Agency Inputs)