News24

New claims of Kampusch case bungling

2010-08-25 22:56

Vienna - Newly published statements by a young Austrian woman who was locked up in a cellar by her kidnapper for eight years, reignited accusations of police failures on Wednesday.

Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped off a Vienna street in 1998 aged 10, made comments after her escape that seemed to indicate her abductor Wolfgang Priklopil had one or more accomplices.

But police never followed up on this information, according to Green lawmaker Peter Pilz, who posted extracts from Kampusch's first statements to the police on his website on Wednesday.

After grabbing her on her way to school on March 2 1998, Priklopil drove around for hours, Kampusch recalled in her first interview with the police on August 24 2006, a day after her escape.

"He told me during the drive that he was going to hand me over to others; they would release me when my parents had paid a ransom," she remembered.

'Nervous and agitated'

"He said he was waiting for a call on his car phone. But the call never came."

Eventually, Priklopil stopped the van in a forest.

"He started pacing, nervous and agitated, and seemed to be thinking hard."

"Suddenly he told me he would bring me somewhere else, since the others hadn't turned up. I can't remember his exact words."

After arriving at his house in Strasshof, on the outskirts of Vienna, where Kampusch would be held for the next eight years, Priklopil hinted again that another person was involved.

"I can vaguely remember that there was talk of a third person who had to search my school bag and check if I had a cellphone or something else that I could defend myself with," Kampusch told police.

The extracts on Pilz's website do not say if she ever saw an accomplice.

The transcripts of these first interviews were locked up to avoid private details filtering out to the media.

But probes into possible police failures on the Kampusch case were never granted access to the files, criticised Pilz, who has long argued there was a cover-up on the part of the police and the interior ministry, shortly before general elections in October 2006.

Ironically, since those first statements, Kampusch has always insisted that Priklopil acted alone. Prosecutors came to the same conclusion in January.

Priklopil committed suicide on the evening of her escape.