Natascha Kampusch case resurfaces: Murder theory rises over 'suicide' of police chief who led inquiry into eight-year disappearance of schoolgirl

Suspicions have been raised by results of new tests carried out by Austrian forensic expert

Berlin

Austria is poised to reopen the case of Natascha Kampusch, the kidnapped schoolgirl who escaped from eight years' imprisonment in a cellar in 2006, following the release of new evidence which suggests that the "suicide" of the police chief who led the investigation into her abduction may in fact have been murder.

Natascha Kampusch was just 10 years old when she was abducted. In March 1998 her kidnapper grabbed her from behind as she was walking to school in Vienna and bundled her into the back of a van. For the next eight years she was imprisoned in a specially built underground cell beneath the suburban home of her abductor.

In August 2006 she finally managed to escape. Neighbours discovered the then 18-year-old girl looking pale, emaciated and terrified as she hid in a next door garden. At first they did not believe her story. But later the same day the headless corpse of Wolfgang Priklopil, her 44-year-old kidnapper was found on a railway line just outside the Austrian capital.

Yet seven years on from what was held to be the conclusion of one of the world's most publicised abduction cases, new evidence has emerged which implies that Priklopil may have had an accomplice and that police and justice authorities could have been involved in an attempt to cover up his existence.

Suspicions have been raised by the results of new tests carried out by the Austrian forensic expert Professor Peter Leinzinger which were published on Wednesday. They conclude that Franz Kröll, the reputedly incorruptible Vienna police colonel who led the Kampusch investigation until his alleged "suicide" in 2010, may have been murdered.

Mr Kröll is said to have come under intense pressure to present a "doctored version" of the Kampusch kidnapping to prosecutors. He is reported to have told colleagues shortly before he was due to present his findings in early January 2010: "I am not going to go in there and lie to everyone's face."

But on 8 January 2010, the Vienna state prosecutor held a press conference at which he declared that the Kampusch case had been solved and that Priklopil was the only perpetrator. Mr Kröll was absent. Six months later the policeman's dead body was found slumped on a terrace outside his flat in the Austrian town of Graz.

A judicial inquiry concluded that he had shot himself in the head with a round fired from left to right from his police issue Walther pistol which he had held in his left hand. However Professor Leinzinger concludes: "Contrary to the findings of the investigating officers, the shot was fired from right to left." His report directly contradicts the original investigation and suggests that Mr Kröll's death was not suicide at all.

Furthermore, earlier police claims that the projectile that killed the policeman had  "bounced off the wall" of his terrace are contradicted by Professor Leinzinger who discovered that the hole allegedly left in the wall by the bullet was a hole "drilled to support a washing line".

There are other factors which suggest that Kröll did not commit suicide. His brother Karl, who has been fighting to have the investigation reopened, says that there are "huge inconsistencies" in the handwriting used in the note his brother allegedly left behind. In addition, the contents of an A4 file in which his brother used to log details of the Kampusch case was missing from its folder when police showed up to investigate his death.

"Professor Leinzinger's report will now form the basis of a parliamentary inquiry, Karl Kröll told Der Spiegel magazine this week, "This case must be finally resolved," he insisted.

The mystery surrounding Mr Kröll's suicide has already led to an independent investigation into the Kampusch affair which is being led by Johann Rzeszut, a former president of Vienna's Supreme Court. He says he has found 27 inconsistencies and omissions in the case and claims that police have ignored several vital pieces of evidence.

One of the most significant is the eyewitness account of a 12-year-old schoolgirl referred to as Ischtar A. who is thought to have been the only person who saw Kampusch being abducted in March 1998. She has revealed that she told police on six occasions that another man was sitting in the driving seat of the van as Priklopil grabbed Kampusch off the street and bundled her into the back of the vehicle.

Ischtar A, who is now 24, has since testified under oath that police put her under intense pressure not to mention the existence of a second man as they were wrapping up their inquiry.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own