Coming Soon on FIVE - The Cannibal that Walked Free

the cannibal that walked free

This documentary examines the remarkable case of Issei Sagawa –the self-confessed ‘godfather of cannibals’ who walked free from prison and became a minor celebrity, despite having killed and eaten a young woman in the early 1980s.

Describing himself as ‘weak, ugly and small’, Issei Sagawa was obsessed with European girls. In 1981, he was studying literature at the Sorbonne Academy in Paris and became enamoured with a beautiful Dutch student called Renée Hartevelt.

On 11th June, Sagawa invited Hartevelt to his room to study, but realised that his desire for her was greater than just sexual attraction. As Hartevelt sat on his bed, Sagawa realised that he wanted to eat her. In his own account of his crime, Sagawa was to later write: “I want to eat her. If I do, she will be mine forever.” He shot the girl in the neck, then proceeded to eat parts of her body in order to “absorb her energy.”

In subsequent interviews, Sagawa has described human fat as “corn-coloured” and added that the meat tastes “soft and odourless”. However, the most remarkable thing about Sagawa’s story is not the heinous nature of his crime, but rather the fact that he was to walk free.

Five days after he murdered Renée Hartevelt, Sagawa was arrested by the French police, but was deemed legally insane and unfit to stand trial. Instead, he was deported to Japan and consigned to a mental institution. However, he was allowed to check himself out just 15 months later, and is now a free man.

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  • Ally

    That is absoloutely hideous. And with no punishment? He deserves to be jailed for life at the very least!

  • leo

    This is absolute madness!If there is nothing in our morale, judicial system and pure common sense to keep people like this behind bars and throw away the keys, then i guess our system is as sick as he is….A man that committed such a heinous crime without remorse, still has it in himself to do it again..and by them it will be too late and “sorry” will not be enough!

  • Malcolm Chalmers

    “If there is nothing in our morale, judicial system and pure common sense to keep people like this behind bars and throw away the keys, then i guess our system is as sick as he is.”

    Err, he was arrested in France, sent to Japan…exactly what does this have to do with “Our” system?

  • Anonymous

    I think if you have to do something you got to do it so yeah but it is sick but what can we do bout it now coz he has done it all ready so get over it ok and it has nothing to do with our system as he did it in france so it up to them and to his country.

  • Anonymous

    i think this is pretty cool. the bum flesh sounds pretty tastey. if anyone wants to try this out then u can e-mail me.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully he’ll get what’s coming to him. Somebody will make sure of that. But that’s Japanese people for you.

  • Rushgoober

    Changes the whole meaning of getting a piece of ass…

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    He raped the dead body as well.

  • megan

    This is verrryyyyy sick!!! and the most sick part is that, they just let him go! Just like that! just like a criminal who stole something from a store! He deserves to be in jail for the rest of his life and for the people who admired the act, Well, i hope you’re next to be eaten so you would know how it feels when you see your body being chopped into pieces and eaten.

  • Anonymous

    i wonder if Chef Ramsey would approve of mustard as a dipping sauce to compliment the taste of human rumproast, i would suggest an “au jus” as a side or perhaps a nice gravy,but thats just me:P

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