Japanese cannibal who walked free dies age 73


Issei Sagawa smiling and gesturing as he meets with an AFP journalist at his apartment in Yokohama. - AFP

TOKYO (AFP): Issei Sagawa, a Japanese murderer known as the 'Kobe Cannibal' who killed and ate a Dutch student but was never jailed, has died aged 73.

Sagawa died of pneumonia on Nov 24 and was given a funeral attended only by relatives, with no public ceremony planned, his younger brother and a friend said in a statement.

The statement was issued by the publisher of a 2019 memoir written by Sagawa's brother.

In 1981, Sagawa was studying in Paris when he invited Dutch student Renee Hartevelt to his home.

He shot her in the neck, raped her, then consumed parts of her body over the course of three days.

He then attempted to dispose of her remains in the Bois de Boulogne park, where he was arrested.

Psychiatric experts deemed Sagawa unfit to face trial, and he was initially held in a mental institution in France before being deported to Japan.

There, he was ruled sane by Japanese authorities, but as the charges against him in France had been dropped, he was allowed to walk free.

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.

He also recounted details of the incident and his ongoing obsession with cannibalism in interviews and a 2017 documentary, 'Caniba'.

Speaking to media outlet Vice, he said he had been "obsessed with cannibalism".

"My desire to eat a woman had changed into an obligation."

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