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.”

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.