Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update: Allegation That German Tourist was Eaten on Nuku Hiva Disputed

As a follow-up to my earlier posting this week, the chief prosecutor on the French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva has denied reports that a cannibal on the island ate a German tourist believed to have been murdered while recently visiting the island. Prosecutor Jose Thorel said police were hunting for Henri Arihano Haiti, a local guide who is suspected of having killed 40-year-old German Stefan Ramin, but claims he has no evidence to support that Ramin had been eaten by local guide, Henri Haiti, 31.

Media reports in Germany and elsewhere have suggested that Ramin, who went missing on the island of Nuku Hiva on October 9 and whose charred remains were found last week, was killed, dismembered and eaten while he visited the island with his girlfriend, Heike Dorsch, 37, on a round-the-world sailing trip."The theory of cannibalism is in no way a part of our investigation," Thorel told AFP.

Ramin reportedly went missing after anchoring his catamaran near the island and heading to the interior with Haiti, a 31-year-old local guide, leaving behind his girlfriend Heike Dorsch, 37. Haiti reportedly returned to the boat claiming Ramin had been injured and needed assistance. When Dorsch left the boat with Haiti, he allegedly tied her to a tree and sexually assaulted her. Human remains were later found in a charred pit on the island last Wednesday (October 12).

COMMENT: Despite Thorel's dispute that Ramin was eaten, he has acknowledged that teeth found at the scene matched Ramin's dental records. DNA analysis is also being conducted. Thorel said police were carrying out a massive manhunt for Haiti, who had previously served six months in prison on a 2005 burglary conviction.

Reports of cannibalism in Polynesia captured the European imagination when the region was first explored by Westerners, but experts say the practice has not been in use for more than a hundred years. Of course, we do know is that there are countless documented cases of cannibalism in contemporary societies. What is most interesting is that Thorel refuses to even consider the possibility that Ramin was eaten by a fugitive who cannot be found.

As I pointed out in my earlier posting, foreign travelers really need to be more circumspect with locals they associate with. Clearly, before any service provider is used, one should ensure that their bona fides has been checked out. If that is not possible, don't use them. Even on an island, it is possible to get recommendations from local governments and merchants. As in Haiti's case, he had a criminal record.

No comments: