Kidnapped German doctor could face charges in France | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.10.2009
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Kidnapped German doctor could face charges in France

Twelve years after being convicted by a French court in absentia of killing a 14-year old girl, a German doctor has been kidnapped by the girl's father and turned over to French authorities.

Andre Bamberski, the French father of the fourteen year old girl who died in 1982

Andre Bamberski admitted he arranged the kidnapping

The case reads like a film noir script.

A 74-year old doctor from Germany was kidnapped and beaten. The doctor, identified by authorities as Dieter K., was found in the French town of Mulhouse, bound and gagged and bleeding from a head injury.

Andre Bamberski, also 74, has been charged with arranging the kidnapping. Bamberski admitted that after years of fighting in court to bring Dieter K. to justice, he finally took the law into his own hands.

"I gave my go-ahead on Oct. 9, 2009, for K. to be brought to France," Bamberski told reporters.

Legal tug-of-war

Graphic showing Germany and France, with flags

Germany and France have different views on the case

The case dates back to July 1982 when Kalinka Bamberski, then 14 years old, was found dead at her stepfather Dieter K.'s home near Lake Constance.

German authorities questioned Dieter K., who admitted he had injected the girl with iron after she complained that she was not tanning fast enough. He later changed his story saying he had given her a remedy for anemia.

According to German prosecutors, the injection was probably the cause of her death, but that fact could not be established beyond a reasonable doubt. The case against Dieter K. was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.

Yet Andre Bamberski believed Dieter K. had killed his daughter. And he refused to let the case drop.

Eventually, he convinced French prosecutors to take up the case and the girl's body was exhumed. After an autopsy, the French concluded that the injection was "contemporaneous" with her death. The doctor was convicted in absentia in France and sentenced to 15 years in jail for manslaughter.

Vigilante justice

But the German authorities refused to hand him over, as he'd already been acquitted in Germany. That outraged Andre Bamberski, who set up a group called Justice for Kalinka in order to lobby authorities to have Dieter K. brought to France and jailed.

But, after years of inaction, Bamberski is accused of taking matters into his own hands. According to French authorities, Bamberski arranged to have Dieter K. kidnapped by men who spoke Russian.

Dieter K's attorney, Francois Serres, expressed outrage that French authorities might now attempt to try his client, after he was illegally dragged across the border.

"If French authorities don't trust the German justice system they should say so," Serres said on France-Info radio, according to the Associated Press. "And if they prefer the methods of the Russian mafia for bringing someone onto French soil, they should say so."

Bamberski is also in trouble. He has been charged with kidnapping, assault and conspiracy, although he was released on bail.

Long-running legal dispute

Court documents with a person in the background

German authorities had dismmissed the case for lack of evidence

The German doctor won a case in the European Court of Human Rights in 2001 against France. In that case, the Court ruled that he had been denied a fair hearing and the human right to an appeal in the case.

In 1997, a German court convicted Dieter K. of sexually abusing a 16-year-old patient. He was given a two-year suspended sentence and his license to practice medicine was revoked.

av/th/Reuters/AFP/AP
Editor: Michael Lawton

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