Europe

Abducted doctor Dieter Krombach in French killing trial

Andre Bamberski, father of Kalinka, arriving in court (29 March 2011)
Image caption The victim's father was arrested in 2009 and accused of kidnapping and criminal conspiracy

A German doctor who was the victim of a mysterious kidnapping has gone on trial in France accused of the death of his stepdaughter in 1982.

Dieter Krombach, 75, was cleared of killing his 14-year-old stepdaughter Kalinka in Germany but later convicted in France in 1995 in his absence.

That verdict was later judged unfair.

In 2009, Dr Krombach was abducted and left near a French court with a head injury. The victim's father, Andre Bamberski, is accused of his kidnap.

Kalinka Bamberski died in July 1982 in Lindau in Bavaria where she had been spending her summer holiday with her mother and stepfather.

'Accidental death'

Image caption Kalinka died in Bavaria in July 1982

According to Dr Krombach, a cardiologist, he had given her an iron injection, apparently to help improve her suntan.

German prosecutors dropped the case against him, deciding the death was accidental. But, after Kalinka's body was exhumed and a post mortem examination carried out, a French court convicted him in his absence of manslaughter.

Six years later, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the cardiologist had been denied a fair hearing and the right to an appeal.

Mr Bamberski, convinced of the stepfather's guilt, has pursued him ever since his daughter's death. In October 2009, Dr Krombach was found, his head bleeding and his hand and feet bound, outside the prosecutor's office in Mulhouse, close to the German border.

Mr Bamberski has since been accused of the abduction.

"Many people, my father in particular, have always told me to drop the case and live normally. But personally, if I had dropped it, I don't think I could have lived a normal life," he told the France Info radio station.

Mr Bamberski, a retired accountant aged 73, told the BBC last year that he had consented to the stepfather's abduction although had not carried it out himself. He said the authorities in Germany as well as in France had hoped the case would be "conveniently forgotten".

Speaking outside the courtroom in Paris on Tuesday, Dieter Krombach's lawyer, Philippe Ohayon, said that the situation was unacceptable and should be referred to the European Court.

"How is it possible... that on one side of the [River] Rhine Dr Krombach is innocent while on this side they dismiss the German judicial system and he is accused?"

His daughter, Diana Gunther, said she hoped that the court would decide to bring the case to an end and let her father return home.

"There have been so many lies in the newspapers that I hope the jury and judges will take into account all these lies and then we won't have any more of these stories," she said.

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