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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 25 January 2022

Austrian child captive speaks out

Natascha Kampusch says she no longer hates the man who detained her for over eight years.

Natascha Kampusch poses with her book
Natascha Kampusch poses with her book "3,096 Tage" (3,096 Days) in Vienna, Austria.
Image: Hans Punz/AP/Press Association Images

NATASCHA KAMPUSCH, THE AUSTRIAN woman held captive for eight and a half years from the age of 10, has said she no longer hates the man who took her from her family.

Wolfgang Priklopil kidnapped Kampusch on 2 March, 1998, and held her in a small cellar at his house in the Viennese suburbs.

After she managed to escape in August 2006 while he was distracted on the phone, he killed himself.

Kampusch, now 22, told the BBC that she doesn’t hate Priklopil any more because she knows he is no longer alive, but added that she did hate him at the time of her captivity for forcing restrictions and dependency on her. She said she hates what he has done to her parents.

She said she found it very difficult to try and pick up where things had left off before her kidnapping, because ”everything that I said was put under such a microscope”. Kampusch said that her family’s ties are so strong that they have overcome the eight years they spent apart.

She says it’s very difficult for her to trust people as she wonders if they are trying to exploit her or if they are really criminals.

Chances to escape

Asked why she didn’t take earlier opportunities to escape, she said it was very easy for people on the outside to say that, but she was very intimidated by Priklopil. She said she thought something bad would happen to her if she tried to escape.

Her captor had told her he would kill her, and then himself, if she tried to run away.

She said she doesn’t hate him any more because she knows he is no longer alive, but that she did hate him for forcing restrictions and dependency on her, and for what he had done to her parents.

Critical of police

Police had visited the kidnapper’s house shortly after her kidnapping, but authorities did not pursue that line of enquiry, despite Priklopil failing to provide an alibi.

In her book about her captivity, entitled 3,096 Days, Kampusch says she dreamed that police would find her and rescue her, but it never happened.

She complains that the police treated her like a criminal when she finally did escape and refused to believe that she was not concealing information about her kidnapping. She also describes the physical and mental abuse she endured in the years she spent in Priklopil’s house.

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