The parents of Christopher Mackintosh were told of his death only this year, although he died in 1992 after going to Germany to work as a pattern maker at an aircraft factory.
Peter and Mary Mackintosh, from Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, are demanding an enquiry and have made a formal complaint about how the case was handled. They want to know why it took so long for Interpol, the Central Scotland police force and German officers to identify his body, now lying in an unmarked grave.
Mr and Mrs Mackintosh also believe their son, aged 21, was murdered. He was found at the foot of a 100ft crane on a building site, with his jewellery and wallet missing. German police say he committed suicide.
Records show Chris died on 14 October 1992, although the Mackintoshes have spoken to several people who saw him alive two days after that. The couple discovered that their son's description was never included in the missing person's report and his details were not circulated internationally.
They are trying to arrange for his remains to be exhumed from a Munich cemetery and brought home for a private burial. Under German law, his body would have been destroyed next year if it had not been identified.
Christopher had telephoned his parents the day after he left home in early October 1992 and promised to call soon. When that call did not come, his parents were not worried at first.
"He was a good-looking lad and we thought he was just too busy enjoying himself," said Mr Mackintosh. "Chris had been seeing his girl for nine months and she was planning to go out there. We had no reason to think he was unhappy. We knew he was staying in a hostel in Munich but did not have the number."
In November they had a phone call from a German man who had been working with Chris, asking if he had arrived home safely. The man told Mr and Mrs Mackintosh that Chris had been made redundant a few days after starting work and that he had given Chris a lift to the railway station in Munich because he was returning to Scotland.
Then Mr and Mrs Mackintosh received an envelope containing Chris' birth certificate and an application form for a passport. There was no note.
Mr and Mrs Mackintosh contacted local police who sent a missing person report to Interpol and German police. The couple asked for checks on hospital records and spoke to staff at his hostel and his former employer.
"We knew something was not right," said Mr Mackintosh, a taxi driver. "I knew in my heart he was dead but every Christmas my wife would lay a plate for him and on his birthday she would buy him a present and a card."
Finally this year, German police matched Chris's body to his missing person's report with the help of dental records.
Mr Mackintosh said: "Why did they not ask people on the building site where he was? He had never been depressed and he was happy-go-lucky. He was never the type to kill himself."
Detective Inspector William Whyte said he did not know why German police took so long, adding: "I feel terribly sorry for the Mackintosh family."Reuse content