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Charges for couple who held German girl as slave

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Charges for couple who held German girl as slave
Bettina Siegner - a pixellated photo. Photo: DPA
15:59 CEST+02:00
A Bosnian couple who held a young German woman captive for more than six years have been charged with her imprisonment, a spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

Bettina Siegner, now 19, is doing better, although she is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the local public prosecutor spokesman Admir Arnautovic said.

"She is much better," the spokesman said.

"She underwent psychological expertise that established that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. However, her both mental and physical recovery is on the right track."

Siegner was rescued by police in the village of Karavlasi, in Tuzla region last month after she had been held captive there since late 2005, according to the prosecutors. The couple were arrested on May 17 and she was placed in a safe house.

The county prosecutor's office in the northeastern town of Tuzla "indicted Milenko and Slavojka Marinkovic for illegally detaining in a cruel way" the spokesman said.

"They were charged for detaining this girl... inflicting her injuries, treating her in an inhuman way, exposing her to starvation and forcing her to do hard agriculture labour," said Arnautovic.

"They did not allow her to have any contact with other people and go to school."

When the teenager was found in a forest near the house where she was held, she had traces of old and fresh injuries on her body.

According to investigators quoted by local press, Bettina wishes to return to Germany where her father Alfred Siegner, a pensioner who has health problems, lives.

But she has to stay in Bosnia until judicial proceedings in her case are over as she is the key witness, the prosecutors said.

Police were alerted by a villager who said he saw Siegner being forced to eat pig food and pull a cart in which Milenko and Slavojka Marinkovic were sitting.

Her mother Christine Siegner, left the then 12-year-old Bettina with the Marinkovic couple in 2005 after having met them in Germany, where they had fled during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Marinkovic family members say Christine Siegner is Milenko's second wife, which they said was not unusual within Roma communities.

For the time being, she is a witness in the case, but local authorities have seized her documents so she cannot leave Bosnia.

"We are doing some verifications and it is possible that Bettina's mother will be also indicted," the spokesman said.

The Marinkovic family and Siegner's mother have denied all accusations.

If convicted, the couple, who have been detained since police rescued the young woman, could be jailed for up to eight years.

AFP/hc

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