Tue, Jul 04, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Germany seeks extradition of kidnap-murder suspect

WANTED A man serving time in Taiwan for trafficking heroin is suspected of murdering an 11-year-old girl in 1981 in Germany, in an apparent bungled kidnapping

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH DPA, TAIPEI

Germany is seeking the extradition of the chief suspect in a 1981 kidnapping who is serving time in Taiwan for drug trafficking.

In the first case of judicial assistance between Taiwan and Germany, Taiwan has agreed to assist Germany in investigating Gerhard Dieter Rockmann, a kidnap and murder suspect who has been in prison after being caught transporting heroin into the country in 2002.

"Germany agrees both countries could enhance judicial cooperation as the Ministry of Justice agreed to assist the country to probe the criminal case, but the ministry hopes both countries can also sign a mutual judicial assistance agreement through this opportunity for cooperation," said Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥), director of the ministry's Department of Prosecutorial Affairs, at a press conference yesterday.

In 1981, an 11-year-old girl was kidnapped by two men on her way home from school in Augsburg, Bavaria. The kidnappers demanded 2 million German marks (US$1.3 million) in ransom from the family.

The kidnappers kept the girl in a wooden box buried underground. The box had a ventilation hole and there was food and water inside, but the girl died from suffocation a few days later after her family did not pay the ransom and the ventilation hole was covered up.

Police named Rockmann, 47, as a suspect after he was seen loitering near the scene of the crime, but he suddenly vanished. Police arrested Rockmann's accomplice.

Tsai said that last year, German authorities had learned that Rockmann was serving time in a Taiwanese prison, and requested judicial cooperation through its diplomats stationed here.

Tsai said that on June 28 Rockmann was taken to the Taiwan High Court's Prosecutors Office where a DNA test was administered. The test was witnessed by Taiwanese and German diplomats.

A sample of Rockmann's saliva was taken and placed in a sealed in a container, which German diplomats then delivered to Germany, the official added.

He said German authorities had originally asked the ministry to allow German prosecutors and police to question Rockmann in Taiwan, but because the two countries have no judicial cooperation agreement and because it involved issues of judicial sovereignty, the German authorities agreed to conduct the DNA test first.

Rockmann entered Taiwan from Thailand in 2002 December, arriving by plane and staying in a hotel in Taipei. Police later raided his room, seized more than 2.1kg of heroin and arrested him.

Last year Rockmann was given a final sentence of life imprisonment for bringing heroin into the country.

Rockmann must serve at least 20 years before he can request parole.

Tsai said that Germany may request Rockmann's deportation once he is granted parole.

The Chinese-language daily United Daily News yesterday reported that Taiwanese prosecutors had summoned Rockmann for questioning on behalf of German investigators, and Rockmann had denied committing the murder.

Rockmann told the prosecutors he would cooperate with German prosecutors only after they showed him more evidence, the paper said.

Taiwan signed a judicial mutual assistance agreement with the US in March 2002, the only such agreement the nation has with a country that is not a diplomatic ally.

Bavarian police suspect that Rockmann kidnapped the wrong girl, as the victim's family was poor and could not afford the ransom, while another girl in the neighborhood had rich parents.

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