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French Polynesia- Cruising sailor's alleged murderer turns himself in

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 4 Dec 2011
Cruising sailor Stefan Ramin whose alleged murderer has just handed himself in to police in Nuku Hiva SW
The man has given himself up, but the warning to cruising sailors to be cautious in remote locations remains. A French Polynesian goat hunter, who has been on the run in the Marquesas since he allegedly killed one cruising sailor and sexually abused another, has turned himself in to police.

The police had been seeking Henri Haiti since October 9th this year, when he took Stefan Ramin, 41, a management consultant from Haselau, a town near Hamburg, on a goat hunt on the island of Nuku Hiva (See Sail-World http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/Horror-in-Paradise---suspected-murder-of-cruising-sailor/89753!story).

Charred bones, bits of flesh and teeth were later found in the remains of a campfire. The teeth were identified as Ramin's. This prompted world-wide mainstream media speculation that he had been eaten. This appears to stem from the history of the islands, where it is well documented that cannibalism - human sacrifice - existed in the past.

After Haiti returned from the goat hunt alone he then chained up the German sailor's girlfriend Heike Dorsch, a yoga instructor. Ms Dorsch was able to struggle free and raise the alarm, triggering the manhunt. Ramin and Dorsch had been cruising the world on their catamaran at the time of the attack.

The 14m (46ft) aluminum catamaran that the two German cruising sailors had called their 'little house on the water' for the last three-and-a-half years is named the 'Baju.' The sailors wrote on their website that their boat was equipped to discover the 'most remote paradises on earth.' Now it is bobbing in the gentle Pacific swells near a local boardwalk.

Haiti, who worked as a hunter and guide, was able to elude captors for 50 days before he turned up at his father's home intent on turning himself in.

'My son is at home, he wants to surrender,' his father told police in a phone call, the Daily Mail reported. 'In the end the pressure of the hunt was too much for him.'

The world-wide accusations of cannibalism have taken a heavy toll on the islands inhabitants. Locals are deeply offended and experts say such killings are a thing of the very distant past.

Déborah Kimitete, deputy mayor of the island shakes her head in disgust, unable to comprehend the turmoil that has descended upon her community in recent days. 'We feel very angry and hurt,' she says. 'What they did with this story is racism; it's an insult to all Marquesans.'

Since the incident, everything has changed on Nuku Hiva, which is a favourite stopping point for cruising sailors on the downwind 'milk run' across the Pacific. A 17-member special French police unit (the Marquesas Islands are a French territory) searched for Haiti, who was hiding in the wilderness.

'People are afraid,' says Kimitete. 'Something like that normally doesn't happen on this island.' Only about 2,900 people live on Nuku Hiva. The main settlement, Taiohae, situated in a staggeringly beautiful gulf on the mountainous island, has one hotel, two churches, a school and a few small shops.

RS Sailing 660x82NaiadNorth Technology - Southern Spars

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