Cannibalism story shocks French Polynesia
Bizarre claims that a missing German sailor has been eaten by Polynesian cannibals have been shot down by French Polynesia’s prosecutor Jose Thorel.
"It's madness…, a non-issue," he's told the latest issue of Les Nouvelles de Tahiti in Papeete of the mystery which has swept the world and left idyllic French Polynesia bewildered – and suspecting an Anglo-German plot.
The story of Stefan Ramin, who went missing on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas in French Polynesia, has grown in the absence of any real proof over what happened to him.
Evidence of cannibalism is absent but because Moby Dick author Herman Melville said there was cannibalism in Nuku Hiva in a book he wrote in 1846, Fleet Street has leapt to the conclusion it is still practiced by the 3000 people of the island.
Ramin and his girlfriend Heike Dorsch, 37, were on the trip of a lifetime sailing around the world, and had arrived on Nuku Hiva on September 16.
They planned to finish their trip in New Zealand next year.
Dorsch told gendarmes on Nuku Hiva that Remin went goat hunting with local guide Arihano Haiti, 31.
He later returned to say that Remin was injured. She went with him and she claims he then tied her to a tree and ran away.
She escaped, Haiti disappeared into the bush and Remin has not been seen since.
Thorel opened an investigation into sexual assault, kidnapping and murder.
He told Les Nouvelles he had no idea where the cannibal story came from and noted none of the media reporting it had any sources.
''Cannibalism, I do not even want to hear about it. It's madness.
''I see no other basis on which we could talk of cannibalism.
''For me, it's a non-issue. Cannibalism was not raised this issue and I do not understand how this could be discussed by the press.''
Charred remains and clothes were found last week and are being subjected to DNA testing in Paris.
Police may know the results by later this week.
Thorel said there were bits of flesh at the site and teeth found matched those of Stefan Reman.
No one in Tahiti was saying the body showed signs of being eaten, but a German newspaper, followed by Fleet Street, said it was evidence of cannibalism.
Even the stately Daily Telegraph said there had been a history of cannibalism; it was believed to have not been practiced there for years.
Les Nouvelles say people are angry Nuku Hiva was being ''slammed'' internationally.
Nuku Hiva deputy mayor Deborah Kimitete says they would like to find out what happened and wonder if the murder was an act of madness.
They do not believe the cannibalism story.
"People have a hard time accepting that," she told Nouvelles de Tahiti.
"When we saw what was happening in the media, there was anger. We do not like the headlines."
The whole Marquesas community were concerned at the disappearance but were concerned the way the media had branded "an entire population...
"It never happened here, this is the first time we saw such a tragedy."
She said Haiti was well known and physically fit but people had difficulty accepting he could have done what he is accused of.
Les Nouvelles de Tahiti commented that for "the Anglo-Saxon and German media, this is little doubt, Stefan Ramin ... was the victim of an act of cannibalism, although there is no official who will certify this macabre thesis."