Police may reopen Kampusch kidnap case

Berlin

The alleged suicide of a Vienna police colonel and the hitherto undisclosed evidence of a key witness has prompted Austria to consider reopening the case of Natascha Kampusch, the schoolgirl held in a cellar for eight years before her sensational escape in 2006.

Until recently, police took it for granted that Wolfgang Priklopil, the man she identified as her kidnapper, had committed suicide on the day of her escape. Kampusch has always insisted that Priklopil acted alone.

Yet new evidence suggests that Priklopil may have had an accomplice who murdered him. A committee of MPs investigating the evidence may order the case to be reopened when it makes its conclusions public at the end of this month.

One intriguing element is the death of Franz Kroll, the police colonel who is alleged to have come under pressure to present a "doctored version" of the kidnapping to prosecutors. In 2010 he was found dead. Police said he had shot himself.

Kroll's brother Karl has questioned the suicide verdict and claims that a notebook Franz used to record his thoughts disappeared following his death.

An independent investigation into the affair claims the police have also ignored the account of a 12-year-old girl who is thought to have been the only person who saw Ms Kampusch being abducted.

Last week the suggestions of foul play prompted Ms Kampusch to deny the allegations. She said they were "wounding" and served only to prolong her trauma.

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