Stefan Ramin, 40, has been missing since October 9, reports The Local.
Police are currently investigating possible crimes of kidnapping, sexual assault and manslaughter linked to his disappearance – but not cannibalism.
Several newspapers in Germany speculated that Ramin was eaten, after charred human bones and teeth were found alongside animal remains on the South Pacific island of Nuku Hiva.
Tuesday’s edition of the Bild tabloid had the headline “Does cannibalism still exist on the island of death?”, above a 19th-century sketch of cannibals cutting apart a captive.
But local prosecutor Jose Thorel emphatically told Agence France Presse that:
“The theory of cannibalism is in no way a part of our investigation.”
Police are currently hunting for the main suspect in Ramin’s disappearance, a local guide named Henri Arihano Haiti, the Independent reports.
According Ramin’s girlfriend, Heike Dorsch, the victim was last seen setting off on a goat hunt with Haiti, who later returned alone.
Haiti allegedly told Dorsch her boyfriend was ill and needed assistance. Once they headed inland to look for him, Dorsch claims Haiti sexually assaulted her and left her tied to a tree.
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While the investigation continues, islanders have been angered by the European media’s characterisation of them as man-eating savages.
Local journalist Alex du Prel told NZ Newswire the cannibalism claims were “absolutely ridiculous”:
“Trust me, we’d rather eat hot dogs than humans around here.”