Kampusch investigator ‘driven into suicide’

Police and political decision-makers are facing fresh pressure after the former head of the Federal High Court (OGH) claimed Kampusch case investigator Franz Kröll was “driven to suicide”.Johann Rzeszut, former OGH president and part of a special commission to investigate the police’s handling of the Kampusch case filed a 46-page report to the justice ministry earlier this week. It discussed possible cover-ups in the investigation of the kidnapping of Natascha Kampusch. He claims investigation results were “consistently neglected” and accuses police and prosecutors of having “substantially obstructed” developments in the case.The special six-member special commission was set up by the interior ministry last year after it was claimed police tried to cover up investigation blunders. A spokeswoman for the justice ministry said today (Fri) Rzeszut’s report has already been forwarded to the anti-corruption prosecution.Rzeszut also claimed that Franz Kröll, a member of the SoKo Kampusch special investigation group was “driven to suicide”. Kröll shot himself on the balcony of his apartment in Graz in June – just half a year after a police-internal commission presented its final report on the kidnapping case. Reports had it that the renowned special investigator had been bullied by colleagues.Ernst Geiger, head of the department for organised crime at the Austrian Federal Crime Office (BK), said it was a “big mistake” for the police not to have followed up a tip-off made by a former police dog squad leader shortly after Natascha Kampusch was snatched in 1998.Having heard that the police were interested in owners of white Volkswagen (VW) vans, the ex-policeman suggested that an loner from Strasshof just outside Vienna might have something to do with her disappearance. Years later it emerged that his claims were never followed up.Investigators have admitted that they searched Priklopil’s VW during traffic checks. When he explained he was just doing some renovation work on his house the officers let him go.”The tip-off about Priklopil was judged incorrectly under stress and in the hectic atmosphere of developments back then. This was a big mistake,” Geiger explained in January.Rzeszut wrote to the justice ministry that he “has serious difficulties in finding the words” to express his criticism.Graz prosecution chief Thomas Mühlbacher rubbished Rzeszut’s serious criticism as “baseless and incomprehensible” today. Prosecutors in Graz took over checking alleged cover-ups last year after accusations that Viennese prosecutors may be biased.A few weeks ago a federal MP claimed that politicians ensured no information on investigation errors was leaked to the public back in 2006 because of the general elections that were due. Green Party MP Peter Pilz accused the interior ministry, at the time headed by the late Peoples’ Party (ÖVP) official Liese Prokop, of being behind the efforts and asserts that he has documents to confirm his claims.Pilz suggested Kampusch should sue the Republic of Austria for compensation as her eight-year imprisonment could have been avoided had the police been more effective and followed up decisive tip-offs. He claimed the 21-year-old could receive around two million Euros in damages for her ordeal at the hands of pervert Wolfgang Priklopil.Both Rzeszut and Pilz hit out at investigators for failing to take an important witness seriously, for example a girl who told officers shortly after the incident that there were not one but two men in the white van which Kampusch was dragged into.Former Federal Constitutional Court (VfGH) President Ludwig Adamovich accused authorities last month of “not having investigated at all properly” when Ernst Holzapfel, the former best friend of Priklopil, was discharged of complicity in suicide charges.The Viennese businessman was found not guilty of having assisted the paedophile kidnapper in escaping justice by committing suicide on the day Kampusch fled his clutches four years ago. Priklopil and Holzapfel met in Vienna after Kampusch and drive around for hours as the kidnapper confessed everything to his pal. Priklopil eventually threw himself in front of a train on the same day.Adamovich, who headed the special investigation group of which Rzeszut was also a member, was fined 5,000 Euros with another 5,000 Euros on probation last year for suggesting Kampusch’s time in captivity might have been better than her childhood before she was kidnapped. He also made headlines by claiming possible accomplices of the pervert jailer might be planning to kill Kampusch to stop her exposing them.Kampusch lives in Vienna today. She caused a stir by giving a remarkable TV interview just days after she fled her abductor’s house. Kampusch’s TV chat show format “Natascha Kampusch trifft…” (Natascha Kampusch meets…) on private Austrian channel Puls 4 was a massive flop, while her new autobiography “3,096 Tage” (3,096 Days) became a bestseller.German producer Bernd Eichinger (“Fantastic Four”) announced earlier this year he was cooperating with Kampusch about turning her life into a film set for a 2012 release.