He had killed and eaten a classmate in Paris: the “Japanese cannibal” died
Issei Sagawa, nicknamed the “Japanese cannibal” for murdering and eating a Dutch student in Paris in 1981, has died at the age of 73.
His crime inspired horror and fascination around the world. Sagawa died on Nov. 24 of pneumonia, and a funeral has already taken place attended only by his relatives, according to a statement from the publisher of a 2019 autobiography by his brother Jun. No public ceremony has been held. was planned, the statement added. Issei Sagawa was a student in Paris at the University of the Sorbonne when, on June 11, 1981, he invited a Dutch comrade, Renée Hartevelt, to dinner in his apartment.
There, he had killed her with a rifle shot in the neck and raped her before cutting her up and eating different parts of her body for three days. “Eating that girl was an expression of love. I wanted to feel in me the existence of a person I love“, he had confessed after his arrest. Experts attesting to his mental illness, he had benefited from a dismissal and had been interned in France then in Japan before recovering freedom in August 1985.
Disgust and fascination
Having become a media star, he received many journalists in his apartment in the suburbs of Tokyo. He sometimes intervened on Japanese television and had published several best-sellers such as “Cannibal” or “I would like to be eaten” and drawn a manga recounting his crime. The Japanese writer Juro Kara won the prestigious Akutagawa literary prize in 1982 for his novel “The Letter from Sagawa”, devoted to crime. Two anthropologists had also made a documentary about him in 2018, titled “Caniba”, in which Issei Sagawa claimed not to be able to “explain” his act. “It’s just my fantasy. I can’t say anything more specific“, he declared in the film. “People must think I’m crazy.”
He described his “obsession” as “impossible to contain”, stating: “I wanted to eat ass more than anything in the world”. The directors of the documentary, Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, said they had been “crossed” by a host of “extremely conflicting feelings” over the months spent in the intimacy of Issei Sagawa and his brother Jun, follower of self-harm. “We were disgusted, fascinated, we wanted to understand …”, specified Verena Paravel, adding that it was despite everything a “film about brotherhood, about love”.
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