PARIS — A 76-year-old Frenchman has gone on trial after a decades-long mission to avenge his daughter’s death.
André Bamberski is accused of ordering the kidnapping five years ago in Germany of a retired doctor, Dieter Krombach, who was tied up and dumped near a French courthouse to face charges in the 1982 death of Bamberski’s 15-year-old daughter, Kalinka. Krombach was the girl’s stepfather.
A conviction for kidnapping and other charges in the two-day trial in northeastern Mulhouse could bring up to 10 years in prison in a case that has raised questions about cross-border justice in the borderless European Union.
As a result of being dumped in France, Krombach is in prison serving a 15-year sentence that was upheld last month by France’s highest appeals court. The 79-year-old German was accused of giving Kalinka Bamberski an injection so he could rape her. A French court in 1995 had convicted him in absentia of “intentional violence that led to unintentional death” in the case.
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But a German court, ruling on the same allegations after the 1995 French court decision, said the evidence was insufficient to prove Krombach’s guilt and refused to extradite him.
In 2009, Bamberski contracted henchmen to haul Krombach to France.
Bamberski lawyer Laurent de Caunes argued that the court should not convict someone who was enforcing the French court decision.
“He acted that way to fulfill his duties as a father; he also acted so that justice could fulfill its duty,” he said.
However, Krombach’s lawyer Yves Levano said Bamberski’s “cause is a cause that’s based on Mr. Krombach’s guilt. But in Germany, he is innocent.”
Krombach had a track record in Germany: He was suspended from practicing medicine after a 1997 conviction for drugging and raping a 16-year-old girl in his office. He pleaded guilty and got a two-year suspended sentence.