Suspected Dutch kidnap case opens old wounds in Austria

VIENNA: The case of an Austrian suspected of holding a Dutch family captive for nearly a decade has sparked memories of two other high-profile kidnappings in the small Alpine country.

Following the detention earlier this week of Josef B in a rural community in the north of the Netherlands where he is being investigated for holding a father and his children in a secret room in a farmhouse, Austrian media have evoked two other past cases – those of Elisabeth Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch.

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Fritzl was imprisoned and raped over 24 years by her father until 2008, while Kampusch was held for eight years by an unemployed telecoms engineer before she escaped in 2006.

"Bad memories of the Josef Fritzl case" and "Crimes that shock" were among the headlines since Wednesday pointing out similarities in the three cases.

'TERRIBLE'

Kampusch, who has just published her third book, this one on fighting online hate postings after her ordeal, told a talk show by the tabloid Krone's TV channel that the Netherlands case opened old wounds.

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Natascha Kampusch has written three books about her kidnapping. (Photo: AFP/Herbert Pfarrhofer)

"It's terrible. I'm not surprised because there are many cases, which we don't know about, also on other continents, where this is common too," she said.

Kampusch was kidnapped in 1998 at age 10 by Wolfgang Priklopil on the way to school in Vienna and held in an underground room measuring less than six square metres (65 square feet).

She recounts being starved, beaten and sexually abused in the room under Priklopil's house until her escape in 2006. Priklopil committed suicide the day she escaped.

Since then, Kampusch has tried to live as normal a life as possible, reuniting with her family, making friends and finishing school, travelling and learning languages. For a short while she even had her own TV chat show.

Despite her ordeal, Kampusch has received hate mail, been shouted at and even attacked by an old woman in the street.

A lot of the antipathy towards her has been fuelled by the perception that she has become rich and by conspiracy theories swirling around over the past decade.

At her recent book publishing, she told media she refused to be silenced by hate postings – as her kidnapper had tried to do by locking her away.

The softly-spoken Kampusch told AFP in 2016 that adjusting back to a free life had been "very difficult".

"I had no foundation to build on, no socialisation with other young people, with people of my own age… But I'm young and I have to swim with other people in the 21st century. I have to integrate myself in this century," she said.

NEW IDENTITY

Fritzl, on the other hand, who was 18 when her father Josef lockedRead More – Source