The Real Life Hannibal Lecter

Have you ever had the thought that a stranger might be interested in meating you? Yes, you read that right. Meating as in, eating you. You might think that it is a ridiculous thought and it only happens in movies and dramas. But it is real, people. If you think Hannibal Lecter only exists in a movie, wait till you meet Issei Sagawa, the real-life Hannibal Lecter.

Issei was born on June 11, 1949, in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan to wealthy parents. He gained minor fame in his hometown after he was arrested by the police for eating one of his classmates while he was studying at the University of Paris. He admits that his desire to be a cannibal started when he was young. He stated that when he was in the first grade, he watched a classmate’s thigh and thought;

It wasn’t until he was in university that he succumbed to his desire and murdered his classmate, Renee Hartevelt, a Dutch woman who studied together with him. He first gained her trust by saying that he needed her help in studying German and he would then invite her to eat at his apartment.

His first attempt in trying to kill her failed as he hesitated but after Renee came back to his place the second time, he shot her before raping her body and then he would proceed to decapitate her body. He chopped her body to several pieces before he ate the parts one by one. Issei originally didn’t intend to kill her but to only eat her and his only regrets while eating her dead body pieces is that he didn’t eat her while she was still alive.

He would then be arrested two days after the murder of Renee. When asked why he did what he did, he said he didn’t know. He compared his cannibalistic instinct with the feeling of a man who is in love with a woman. He said that when a man is in love with a woman, they would do anything to be together with the woman they love.

But for Issei’s case, he would do anything to eat the people he met and would consider his desire merely a fetish. Issei was arrested by the French police after several people noticed the bloodied suitcase he brought and notified the authorities. When he was arrested, his answer was simple;

“I killed her to eat her flesh.”

He was then sent to a French prison and he would wait two years for his trial. After waiting two years in the French prison, the judge, Jean-Louis Brugiere, declared that he is legally insane and he is unfit to stand in the trial. He was then ordered to be institutionalized in a mental institution indefinitely.

When he was deported back to Japan, they had no choice but to let him off scot-free due to the French law when the charges have been dropped, the court documents are not allowed to be viewed, hence, making Japan has no case against him.

Issei would then check himself out from the mental institution and have been able to walk free amongst other people since the year 1986 and he still has the desire to eat human meat again in the future.


  • Nurul Aina Fatihah binti Zamri adalah pelajar dari Fakulti Filem, Teater, dan Animasi.
  • Dr. Mohd Suhaidi Abu Bakar adalah Timbalan Dekan Penyelidikan dan Jalinan Industri, Fakulti Filem, Teater, dan Animasi.

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