A year later, dungeon girl to go on TV

By Joerg Michner

When Natascha Kampusch goes on television tomorrow, it will be to try to show how she has managed to adjust to normal life a year after her escape from a paedophile's dungeon.

To use her own words: "I believe I owe people who have taken a part in my story the chance to see how I am doing now."

The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation filmed her at home as she took her first driving lesson, started learning archery and took her first flight abroad. The result, a special production called Natascha - a Year On, shows a young woman struggling to rejoin a world that passed her by for so long.

The interest in Natascha, 19, has not waned, but neither have the controversies. The girl who a year ago fled her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, who had held her at his home for eight years, is facing questions over why she has failed to set up a promised charitable foundation or use donations made to it.

While her bank account is full with the millions she made from the media and she is regularly seen shopping in Vienna's swankiest shops, it was revealed last week that a fund for abused women - for which Natascha made an appeal for donations a year ago - has not spent a penny in aid and has only $97,000 in its account. Her lawyer, Gerald Ganzger, admitted that the foundation had not yet been set up.

"We are having talks at the moment - we will know more by the end of the year," he said. He said the same when asked last November.

The collected money had been put in a regular savings account, but Ganzger said he had no access to it. He also said the reason for the delay lay in Kampusch's focus on finishing her education.

The spotlight on Kampusch is as bright as ever - last week she received a front-page apology from the Austrian daily newspaper Heute, which published pictures of her kissing her lawyer's son in a disco.

A book by her mother, Brigitta Sirny-Kampusch, out this month, reveals that Kampusch carries a photograph of Priklopil's coffin.

Her father, Ludwig Koch, who is not writing a book "out of respect" for Kampusch, has been selling interviews almost every week and is planning to sue Kampusch's mother over "unfavourable" remarks she made about him in her book.

Koch said: "No one can believe that I am so stupid that I will just leave this book unchallenged."

He claims he has not seen his daughter for two months, blaming her mother. "I am rethinking about writing my own book and then the public will find out a few things about the previous life of this lady [Kampusch's mother]. I am sorry that instead of being together and celebrating that our daughter is home again, we are arguing with each other."

The parents' dispute, coupled with the row about the foundation, shows life remains far from normal for Kampusch. The respected newspaper Wiener Zeitung voiced what many Austrians were thinking when it wrote: "The main question that arose is why there is only €50,000 ($97,000) in this account, as Natascha has received millions for her TV interviews and a flood of private donations [have] come in. Many in the public complained they had been led to believe that at least some of this money would be used for charity work."

Ganzger retorted: "This income from the TV interviews is only for securing Ms Kampusch's life, which is strictly separate."

The vice-president of the Austrian Chamber of Chartered Public Accountants and Tax Consultants, Klaus Huebner, said: "As a donor I would be disappointed. The money is lying around uselessly and there are people who need it urgently. The whole thing may have been done with good intentions, but it is amateur.

" Observer

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