Crooked nose drove Kampusch kidnapper claims his best friend

The Austrian kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch was imprisoned as a child in a cellar for eight years because her abductor wanted an "untouched virgin" to make up for his crooked nose and failures with women, his former best friend has claimed.

The insights into the disturbed personality of Wolfgang Priklopil, Ms Kampusch's 44-year-old kidnapper, were revealed for the first time by Ernst Holzapfel, Priklopil's friend and former business partner, in statements to police that were published by the Austrian magazine News.

Mr Holzapfel, who will go to court to face charges of aiding and abetting Priklopil later this month, told police his former friend wanted an "untouched virgin" whom he could one day marry. Ms Kampusch was 10 when she was snatched in 1998.

"Wolfgang had been unhappy since boyhood because no girl had ever fallen in love with him," he said. "He was insecure about his looks, especially his nose which he thought was crooked. He once considered cosmetic surgery but in the end he decided to spend the money it would have cost for an operation on building a bunker beneath his home."

Priklopil threw himself under a train at Vienna's main railway station in August 2006, hours after Ms Kampusch, by then 18, had managed to escape her prison and flee to a neighbouring house. Police then launched a frantic search for Priklopil. Mr Holzapfel said his revelations about Priklopil's motives were based on a so-called "life confession" in the hours before his death. Mr Holzapfel said he had spent some hours driving Priklopil around Vienna in his car. "He invested in the bunker. His idea was to kidnap a young girl and turn her into his dream woman," he said.

Before she escaped, Priklopil said he had been planning a "white wedding" with his prisoner and claimed he had been busy trying to procure false papers that would have identified him as a Czech citizen and enabled him to begin a new life with his bride.

Priklopil kidnapped Ms Kampusch, who is now 22, as she was on her way to school in Vienna. He bundled her into his van and drove her to his home in the city's Strasshof suburb where he had constructed an underground bunker beneath a converted nine by six foot car inspection pit in his garage.

In a televised account of her ordeal screened earlier this year, Ms Kampusch recalled: "I was like an Egyptian Pharaoh conserved alive."

Initially only allowed to communicate with her captor through an intercom system, she spent much of her time underground in complete darkness which was interrupted only by a timed light switch. Ms Kampusch has refused to reveal whether she had sex with Priklopil but insists she was not used for child pornography. She is reputed to carry a photograph of her former kidnapper around with her, while the court settlement in her case has given her ownership of the house where she was kidnapped and most of Priklopil's possessions.

She recently reached a deal with a German producer for a film about her ordeal and her German language account of her story is due to be published in English this autumn.

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