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Fugitive German doctor in French vigilante kidnap

Published on 21/10/2009

Mulhouse -- A German heart doctor convicted for killing his French stepdaughter 27 years ago was found tied up outside a court in France, police said Tuesday, apparently delivered by his victim's father.

Cardiologist Dieter Krombach, 74, was found before dawn on Sunday in a doorway in the eastern French city of Mulhouse, just over the German border, bound and gagged and bleeding from a head injury.

A French court in 1995 convicted the doctor in absentia of manslaughter over the death of 14-year-old Kalinka Bamberski, who died at his home in Lindau in Germany in 1982 after he gave her a mysterious injection.

Berlin has refused to hand him over to the French courts on the grounds that he had already been tried and acquitted in Germany.

But Kalinka’s father Andre Bamberski has lobbied for two decades for the doctor to be jailed.

The 74-year-old Bamberski was arrested in Mulhouse on Sunday. He has admitted to police he made the call tipping them off to Krombach’s whereabouts.

The cardiologist was taken to hospital under police guard. His lawyers intend to seek his release, saying their client was the victim of a "kidnapping" in Germany and has suffered serious facial injuries.

Convinced that Krombach drugged his daughter in order to rape her and that Berlin is protecting him from the French courts, Bamberski set up a pressure group, Justice for Kalinka, to lobby for him to be jailed.

The pressure group’s head, Robert Pince, said he believed the girl’s father tried to deliver Krombach to the courts himself.

"Of course I suspect Andre Bamberski of trying to bring Dieter Krombach back to France, even if I cannot say so for certain," said Pince.

"Andre Bamberski is a very religious man. He does not want revenge, he wants justice," Pince said. "He has been fighting for 25 years and maybe he felt the case was dying off. He may have wanted to give a good kick and stir things up."

Kalinka Bamberski was found dead one morning in July 1982 at the doctor’s home on the banks of Lake Constance, where she was spending the summer holidays with her mother.

German investigators questioned Krombach over her death, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence the following month.

Krombach told German investigators he injected Kalinka with an iron-based solution the night before her death after she complained she was not tanning fast enough. He later changed his statement to say it was a remedy for anaemia.

German prosecutors found that the injection "probably" caused her death, but that it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt.

But France reopened the case three years later after an autopsy on Kalinka’s exhumed body, carried out at her father’s request, suggested foul play.

Experts at the French trial found that the doctor’s injection was "contemporaneous" with her death.

In 1995, Krombach was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter and an international warrant was issued for his arrest.

But the German doctor won a 2001 case against France before the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that he had been denied a fair hearing and the right to an appeal in the Kalinka Bamberski case.

A German court convicted the cardiologist in 1997 of sexually abusing a 16-year-old patient after injecting her with anaesthetic in his surgery. He was handed a two-year suspended sentence and stripped of his licence.

In 2007 he was convicted of fraud for continuing to practice illegally.