Kampusch case retrial possible
The Natascha Kampusch kidnap case might go on retrial as five prosecutors face abuse of office charges.The Innsbruck state prosecution confirmed that it started looking into claims that their Viennese colleagues “permanently neglected investigation developments”.Former Federal High Court (OGH) President Johann Rzeszut made this accusation in a letter to the whips of the five parties represented in the federal parliament some weeks ago. Rzeszut also claimed that chief investigator Franz Kröll, who shot himself last June, was “driven to suicide” after being told to “finally let the case rest”.The former OGH chief was part of a six-member commission set up to check the truth of claims that police covered up investigation blunders.The commission was headed by Former Federal Constitutional Court (VfGH) President Ludwig Adamovich, who was fined 5,000 Euros with another 5,000 Euros on probation last year for suggesting Kampuschs time in captivity might have been better than her childhood before she was kidnapped. The victims mother Brigitta Sirny took him to court over the statements. The verdict, spoken out in December 2009, has not yet achieved legal status. Adamovich controversially also warned that potential accomplices of the kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil may be considering killing Kampusch.Kampusch, 21, was snatched off the street on her way to school in Vienna in March 1998. She fled the clutches of her pervert jailor in August 2006. Priklopil committed suicide hours after Kampusch managed to escape his house in Strasshof an der Nordbahn just outside Vienna.Hansjörg Mayer, a spokesman for Innsbruck state prosecution, commented about the abuse of office accusations today (Weds): “We are just at the start. We are currently trying to find out which files we need to investigate the claims.”Die Presse reports today that Werner Pleischl, head of the High State Prosecution in Vienna, is one of the five high-profile prosecutors the investigations are focused on. “I fully understand that a third prosecution was assigned. They (the justice ministry) want to be precise,” Pleischl told the daily newspaper.Graz prosecutors were ordered last year to examine whether their Viennese counterparts failed to thoroughly check possible police investigation errors.Meanwhile, Rzeszut also accused the interior ministry of having “substantially obstructed” the evaluation of possible mistakes in investigating the case.The ex-OGH president stressed that a witness told the police on six separate occasions that there were two men in the van into which Kampusch was dragged on the day she was kidnapped. Rzeszut said the girl, aged 12 at that time, suddenly took back her statements some years later.Ernst Geiger, head of the department for organised crime at the Austrian Federal Crime Office (BK), said only in January 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 Kampusch was abducted.Having heard that the police were interested in owners of white Volkswagen (VW) vans, the ex-policeman suggested that a loner from Strasshof might have something to do with her disappearance. The ex-officer said the man in mind “might have a tendency towards young children”. Years later, it emerged that his claims were never followed up.Investigators have admitted that they searched Priklopils 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 said.Green Party MP Peter Pilz suggested recently 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. Kampuschs lawyers are understood to be evaluating the chances of success of such legal action.The whole case into what is regarded as one of the biggest crimes in post-war Austria, could go on retrial if Innsbruck prosecutors come to the conclusion that there are still open questions as far as the actions of prosecutors in Vienna and Graz are regarded.