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 had no evidence to suggest Ramin had been eaten.
Media reports in Germany 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 on a round-the-world sailing trip.
“The theory of cannibalism is in no way a part of our investigation,” Thorel told news agency 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 he allegedly attempted to sexually assault her and tied her to a tree.
Human remains were found in a charred pit on the island last Wednesday and Thorel said teeth found at the scene matched Ramin’s dental records. DNA tests were being conducted to confirm the find, he said.
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.