Austrian Kidnap Victim Has Little Contact With Parents

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The young woman who endured 8 1/2 years in captivity has adopted a "reserved attitude" toward her parents since her dramatic escape from her kidnapper last week, psychologists treating her said Thursday.

Experts who have been meeting with 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch since she bolted to freedom on Aug. 23 told reporters she has been in regular telephone contact only with her mother and has not had any further contact with her father. The three had had a tearful reunion when she escaped, and both parents have begged to be able to see her again.

Monika Pinterits, a lawyer who specializes in representing traumatized young people, said Kampusch might not decide for weeks or months whether to live with one of her parents.

They divorced after her abduction as a 10-year-old schoolgirl in March 1998 — a case that until last week was one of Austria's greatest unsolved mysteries.

CountryWatch: Austria

Kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil, 44, killed himself by jumping in front of a train after Kampusch escaped.

Max Friedrich, a criminal psychiatrist on the team treating Kampusch, said the years she spent as a prisoner — often confined to a windowless underground cell — amounted to "isolation torture."

Kampusch's mother, Brigitta Sirny, issued a statement saying she was grateful that so many people sympathized with her daughter's plight but pleading with the media to "leave her alone."

"The whole fuss has really become too much for me and for all of us," Sirny said, adding that she would no longer grant any interviews.

The young woman's father, Ludwig Koch, has filed a court claim for a $45,000 share of Priklopil's estate to help compensate for her extreme mental suffering and help ensure "the future security of my child," the Kronen Zeitung daily reported for Friday's editions.

As therapists continued caring for Kampusch in the secure, unidentified location where she has been resting since escaping Priklopil, police said they tentatively planned to question her again about her ordeal.

"It all depends on whether Ms. Kampusch can and is willing to talk," said police Maj. Gen. Gerhard Lang of the Federal Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Investigators on Thursday finished collecting and preserving fingerprints, traces of DNA and other biological evidence from Priklopil's sprawling home in the Vienna suburb of Strasshof, and Lang said it would be analyzed at a police laboratory.

Police questioned her in three 20-minute sessions on Wednesday, and another lawyer, Guenter Harrich, said she seemed "rather exhausted" by the time they were done.

Investigators spent another day gathering evidence from Priklopil's sprawling home in the Vienna suburb of Strasshof. Lang said officers moving from floor to floor collecting and preserving fingerprints and traces of DNA expected to finish that part of the inquiry in a day or two.

Police said they have found no evidence of any other secret rooms like the cell where Kampusch was kept, which contained books, clothes, a television, a bed, a toilet and a sink. Investigators say she was allowed to listen to radio and watch videos, and with the help of a book taught herself how to knit.

Officers cataloging videos and notes for closer examination found a number of children's and youth books, Lang said.