France - Germany

French court rules kidnapped German can stand trial

AFP/Pascal PavaI

A Paris court has ruled that German doctor Dieter Krombach must stand trial over the death of his stepdaughter even though her father kidnapped him and dumped him on the steps of a French courthouse.


French citizen André Bamberski, the father of 14-year-old Kalinka, abducted Krombach, a cardiologist on the German side of Lake Constance, in 2009.

He brought him to France, tipping off the police after leaving him bound and bloodied on the courthouse steps in the Alsace town of Mulhouse.

A German court had dismissed the case for lack of evidence over Kalinka’s death in 1982.

Bamberski is convinced that Krombach drugged Kalinka in order to rape her. Kalinka’s mother, Danielle Gonnin, had left Bamberski for Krombach.

In 1995 a French court convicted the doctor in absentia of manslaughter.

And on Wednesday, another French judge rejected the arguments of Krombach’s lawyers that he should not be tried because he has already been acquitted in Germany, and because he was brought to France under duress.

Under EU law, a person cannot be tried for the same crime in two countries

Bamberski, who has pursued a 29-year campaign to have Krombach tried over Kalinka’s death, expressed his relief at the ruling.

“I am more serene than yesterday morning, because the trial is finally going to go ahead,” he said.

Krombach has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kalinka, and denies raping her.

Gonnin also attended the hearing.

Bamberski himself was arrested in 2009 and charged with kidnap, assault and criminal conspiracy.

Yesterday’s proceedings were devoted to examining Krombach’s past, and the court heard from Mikaël Hentze, the brother of the doctor’s first wife, Monika, who died in 1969 at the age of 24.

Hentze told the court that Krombach repeatedly hit Monika and raped her.

Hentze said his parents suspected that Krombach was responsible for their daughter’s death, which doctors attributed to prolonged use of the contraceptive pill. Krombach denied the accusations and described his marriage to Monika as very happy.

Questioned by German investigators over Kalinka’s death in 1982, Krombach told police that he had injected her with an iron-based solution, to help her tan more quickly. He later said it was a remedy for anaemia.


Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app