Wed, Aug 22, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Austrian woman talks about captor

AP , VIENNA

A woman watches an interview of Natascha Kampusch on Austrian television on Monday. Kampusch escaped from her kidnapper one year ago after being held for eight years in the cellar of a house some 20km from Vienna.

PHOTO: AFP

A young woman who escaped a year ago after being held for more than eight years in a dingy cell said on Monday she considered her captor a "poor soul" and once cynically told him she would dance on his grave someday.

Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old when she was kidnapped in Vienna on her way to school in March 1998. She spent the next eight years at the mercy of her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, who largely confined her to a tiny underground dungeon in his home in a quiet Vienna suburb.

Priklopil committed suicide within hours of Kampusch's dramatic escape on Aug. 23 last year, which marked the end of one of Austria's greatest crime mysteries.

"All I can say is that, bit by bit, I feel more sorry for him," Kampusch, now 19, said in a documentary aired on Austrian television on Monday night to mark her first year of freedom.

Looking healthy and calm, Kampusch referred to Priklopil as a "poor soul -- lost and misguided," and said that what he did to her hadn't paled but had "moved further into the distance."

She said that in part she let Priklopil manipulate her but that she was also able to manipulate him.

"It was like a wrestling match, if you know what I mean," she said.

Kampusch also acknowledged she said goodbye to Priklopil as he lay in a coffin after throwing himself in front of a commuter train hours after she fled.

"I meant this cynically but I said to him that one day I'd dance on his grave -- that was of course not the case," she said, adding she did feel a certain gratification and victory.

"It was always clear there could only be one of us and it was me in the end -- and not him," she said, adding she felt some sorrow and pity for Priklopil.

Kampusch also said that, like her, Priklopil was always very exact and determined, traits she referred to as "good and advantageous."

The 50-minute program was shot mostly in a television studio and in Barcelona, Spain. But Kampusch was also featured taking driving lessons and learning archery.

In the studio, Kampusch was dressed in dark clothes and spoke in a voice that was sometimes not much louder than a whisper. In contrast, she appeared happy and at ease while reading from a guide book on the streets of the Spanish city, listening to a saxophone player on a boat or taking a dip in the sea as her older sister looked on.

Kampusch said it would still take her a long time before she would be able to fully trust anyone.

Kampusch, who came across as someone who chooses her words carefully, also said she still owned clothing she had while in captivity and that she has been back to the house where she was imprisoned.

She said she wanted to be taken seriously and didn't wants events of her case to be "swept under the carpet."

But she also said she wished people would be more sensitive by asking her permission before taking photographs and not seeking autographs.

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