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Issei Sagawa, A Japanese Cannibal Who Lived Freely Passes Away At Age 73

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Issei Sagawa, A Japanese Cannibal Who Lived Freely Passes Away At Age 73

(CTN NEWS) – TOKYO – Issei Sagawa, a Japanese killer nicknamed the “Kobe Cannibal,” who killed and devoured a Dutch student but never went to prison, passed away at 73.

According to a statement from his younger brother and a friend, Sagawa passed away from pneumonia on November 24 and had a private funeral with no planned public celebration.

Renee Hartevelt, a Dutch student, was welcomed to Sagawa’s house in 1981 while he was a student in Paris. He raped her, shot her in the neck, and ate various pieces of her body over the next three days.

After attempting to scatter her remains in the Bois de Boulogne park, Sagawa was apprehended a few days later and admitted to the authorities for what he had done.

Issei Sagawa, A Japanese Cannibal Who Lived Freely Passes Away At Age 73

Issei Sagawa being escorted by French policemen in 1981.

‘Unfit For Trial’

He was first detained in a mental institution before being deported to Japan in 1984 after French medical experts 1983 determined that he was incompetent for trial.

To ensure that “the murderer would never go free,” Hartevelt’s family promised at the time that they would work to have Sagawa tried in Japan.

However, Japanese officials declared Sagawa to be sane upon his arrival, concluding that his main issue was a “character oddity” and that he did not need to be hospitalized.

The murderer was let go because the Japanese government could not obtain his case papers from their French counterparts, who saw the matter as closed.

Japanese Cannibal Who Lived Freely Passes Away At Age 73

Issei Sagawa leaves Paris police headquarters after questioning in 1981. AFP

Issei Sagawa did not hide his crime and profited from his reputation, writing a memoir akin to a novel called “In the Fog,” in which he described the murder in great detail.

The murder was also the focus of Juro Kara’s “Letter from Sagawa-Kun,” a 1982 Akutagawa Prize winner and the nation’s highest literary honor.

Sagawa acquired notoriety and frequently gave interviews to domestic and foreign media in the years following the murder, despite the horrible specifics of the crime and his lack of remorse.

He starred in a pornographic film, had a painting of a naked woman published in a magazine, and created a manga comic book that graphically and unremittingly detailed his crime.

The Rolling Stones and The Stranglers have even mentioned the murder in songs due to their vile infatuation with it.

Issei Sagawa Final Years

Sagawa spent his latter years living with his brother, apparently in a wheelchair due to several medical issues, including a stroke.

He told Vice in a 2013 interview as he regarded posters of Japanese women: “I think they would taste wonderful,” but he showed no sign of regret or reform.

He spoke about the experience and his continued fascination with cannibalism in interviews in the 2017 documentary “Caniba.”

The movie’s directors spent months with Sagawa and his brother, and they later said that the interaction left them feeling “conflicted.”

Verena Paravel, the co-director, stated, “We were disgusted, interested, and we wanted to understand.”


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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