SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Kidnapped doctor convicted in Paris court

A French father won a 30-year quest for justice for his dead daughter on Saturday, after a German doctor he had kidnapped and delivered to the French courts to face charges was convicted of her killing.

Kidnapped doctor convicted in Paris court
Photo: DPA

A Paris court sentenced Dieter Krombach, 76, to 15 years in jail after he was found guilty over the death of his stepdaughter Kalinka at their German home in 1982.

The girl’s biological father, Andre Bamberski, had Krombach kidnapped and brought to France in 2009, after German authorities decided he had no case to answer.

Bamberski will eventually face court himself for the vigilante action, which caused a media sensation.

Krombach, who went on trial on October 4, was convicted of “deliberate violence leading to involuntary death” at Paris’ main criminal court, bringing to an end the three-decade-long legal and diplomatic drama.

His lawyer Yves Levano said he would appeal the verdict, however.

Krombach showed no sign of emotion when he learned of his fate, while his red-eyed daughter went to take his hand across the screen of the dock.

Kalinka, a healthy 14-year-old girl, was found dead in her bed at the home she shared with her younger brother, her mother and step-father and their two children near Lake Constance in southern Germany in July 1982. A local autopsy proved inconclusive as to the cause of death.

Forensic examinations of the body did, however, call into doubt Krombach’s account of the hours before the death.

His credibility was weakened in 1997 when he was convicted of drugging and raping a 16-year-old patient – a case with no direct bearing on the French trial, but one that increased the suspicions of Kalinka’s father.

German judges had dismissed the case in 1987, and Germany refused to send Krombach to France in 2004 when Paris issued a European arrest warrant, on the grounds that no one should be tried twice on the same charge.

Krombach had been convicted in absentia by a French court of “deliberate violence that led to involuntary death” – but under French law, when someone tried in absentia is later arrested, there is a new trial.

There would have been no new trial, however, if Bamberski had not taken the law into his own hands.

He hired a kidnap team, and in October 2009, they snatched the doctor from his home in Scheidegg and brought him to France.

There, they abandoned him, trussed up, near the law courts in the border town of Mulhouse. Krombach was promptly arrested.

Bamberski has never made any secret of what he did, and expects to stand trial for his acts in several months.

He had been hoping for a conviction for murder against Krombach. But after the verdict, he said: “Everything I have done has been for this, what I wanted, a fair and full trial … I am going to be able to grieve.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

POLICE

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about gun laws in Germany

Germany is known for having some of the world’s strictest gun laws, but shooting incidents continue to cause concern.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about gun laws in Germany

Is it difficult to get a gun in Germany?

To get a gun in Germany you firstly have to obtain a firearms ownership license (Waffenbesitzkarte) – and you may need a different one for each weapon you buy – or a license to carry (Waffenschein).

Applicants for a license must be at least 18-years-old and undergo what’s called a reliability check. This includes checking for criminal records, whether the person is an alcohol or drug addict, whether they have a mental illness or any other attributes that might make them owning a gun a potential concern for authorities.

They also have to pass a “specialised knowledge test” on guns and people younger than 25 applying for their first license must go through a psychiatric evaluation.

Crucially, applicants must also prove a specific and approved “need“ for the weapon, which is mainly limited to use by hunters, competitive marksmen, collectors and security workers – not for self-defence.

Once you have a license, you’re also limited in the number of and kinds of guns you may own, depending on what kind of license you have: Fully automatic weapons are banned for everyone, while semiautomatic firearms are banned for anything other than hunting or competitive shooting.

A revolver lies on an application for the issuance of a firearms license. Photo: picture alliance / Carsten Rehder/dpa | Carsten Rehder

How many legal guns are there in Germany? 

According to the latest figures from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, as of May 31st, 2022, there were 5.018,963 registered guns in Germany, and 946,546 gun owners entered in the National Weapons Register (NWR).

Where are the most guns in Germany?

Most legal guns are found in rural areas and are used in hunting or shooting sports. Guns are also more widespread in the western States than in the states that make up the former East Germany, where private gun ownership was extremely limited. 

READ ALSO: German prosecutors say poaching led to double police murder

What about undocumented guns in Germany?

One problem in Germany is so-called ‘old’ weapons. It’s impossible to estimate how many weapons from the two world wars are still in circulation and such antiques have appeared in a number of high-profile incidents in the last few years.

The pistol hidden in a Vienna airport by Bundeswehr officer Franco A was a Unique pistol from 1917 and the 2007 murder of a police officer in Heilbronn involved a Wehrmacht pistol. 

In 2009, around 200,000 weapons were returned in a gun amnesty, but it is still unclear how many illegal weapons are still out there.

Does Germany have a gun violence problem?

Gun crime is relatively rare in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe and, according to the latest figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), gun-related crimes in Germany are decreasing.

In 2021, there were 9.8 percent fewer crimes committed with a firearm than the previous year, while the number of cases recorded by the police in which a firearm was used to threaten fell by 11.2 percent. Shots were fired in 4,074 of the total number of recorded cases, down 8.5 percent from 2021.

An armored weapons cabinet filled with long guns. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Friso Gentsch

Despite this, there have been several mass shootings within the past two decades, which have had a big impact on public consciousness and on gun control policy. 

Between 2002 and 2009 there were three major incidents of young men carrying out shootings at their former high schools and, in 2020, a racially motivated gunman shot and killed 11 people and injured numerous others in an attack on two shisha bars in Hanau. The perpetrator was allowed to legally possess firearms, although he had previously sent letters with right-wing extremist content to authorities.

Recently there were also shootings at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany and at a supermarket in Schwalmstadt in Hesse.

Are German gun laws about to change?

The German parliament reacted to the mass shooting incidents in the early 2000s by tightening the gun laws, and, in the wake of the Hanau attack, a new amendment is in the works, which aims to shift focus towards monitoring gun owners with extremist, right-wing views.

READ ALSO: Germany marks a year since deadly racist shooting in Hanau

In December 2021, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) announced her intention to further tighten gun laws, as part of a plan to tackle right-wing extremism.

The authorities in charge of the protection of the constitution have been warning for some time that neo-Nazis are deliberately joining shooting clubs to obtain guns and the Federal Ministry of the Interior reports that 1.500 suspected right-wing extremists among legal gun owners.

Campaigners say more needs to be done to stop gun crime. 

Dagmar Ellerbrock, a historian and expert on weapons history at the Technical University of Dresden said: “It is high time that we try to at least make it more difficult for these political groups to find their way through the shooting associations.”

SHOW COMMENTS