Kampusch 10 years on: Life 'a jail' after kidnap ordeal

The Local/AFP
The Local/AFP - [email protected] • 19 Jul, 2016 Updated Tue 19 Jul 2016 14:39 CEST
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Austrian woman Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped as a child and imprisoned for eight years, said life was still "not normal" a decade after her release, in an interview published Tuesday.

Kampusch was abducted from a Vienna street in 1998 at the age of 10 and kept in a cellar until she re-emerged on August 23, 2006, in a case that made headlines around the world. 

"The media circus began after I managed to escape and has definitely restricted me in many ways. I didn't feel protected and safe," Kampusch told Austrian newspaper Der Kurier.

"In that sense, society became a second prison... There is no normal life for me," said the 28-year-old who will release a new autobiography called "Ten Years of Freedom" in August. 

Unemployed telecoms engineer Wolfgang Priklopil grabbed Kampusch on her way to school and bundled her into his van on March 2, 1998. 

He locked her up in an underground room measuring less than six square metres (65 square feet) in the suburb of Strasshof, not far from her parental home. 

Priklopil told his victim that the doors and windows were booby trapped and that her family had forgotten about her.

In total, Kampusch was held captive and routinely abused for 3,096 days before she managed to break free.

Priklopil, 44, killed himself hours after she escaped.

'Just a slave'

Kampusch returned to the scene of crime for a documentary screened Monday on public broadcaster ORF.

"He gave me very little to eat, humiliated me, made me do hard physical work, and shaved my hair off," she said, walking around the Strasshof property which was signed over to her by Priklopil's mother several years ago. 

"He made me wear as little as possible to show that he was the master and I was just a slave," Kampusch added. 

After her release, she published a first autobiography in 2010, which became an instant bestseller and was later turned into a film. 

But the interest did not always translate into public support, said Kampusch. 

"Old ladies would come up to me and try to hit me or call me a liar or a whore," she said in the ORF documentary. 

"There are only a few moments, in which I have felt truly free over the past 10 years."

Legal battle

In June, she lost a legal battle to ban a recently published book, which revealed shocking new details about the case, including how Priklopil filmed humiliating videos of Kampusch.

Kampusch accused German journalist and former police investigator Peter Reichard of violating her personal rights. 

But judges found in favour of Reichard who insisted he had written "The Whole Shameful Truth" with Kampusch's consent. 

The young woman said her own book, due out on August 12, would allow her to once again clarify "what really happened". 

Kampusch also expressed cautious optimism about the future, saying she was taking singing and horse-riding lessons.

She said she had no official plans yet for the Strasshof house, which she visits every couple of months to "fix things here and there". 

"Now begins the phase where I will take my life into my own hands," Kampusch told ORF.

"I want to say: 'I am allowed to be here, I am allowed to live, I am allowed to evolve.'"



The Local/AFP 2016/07/19 14:39

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