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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 02:41 GMT 03:41 UK
Ex-kidnap girl attracts media glare
By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

Natascha Kampusch on Austrian TV
Natascha is in great demand from the Austrian media
One year on from her terrible ordeal, Natascha Kampusch is trying to lead a normal life.

She has been on holiday to Barcelona, along with her sister and an Austrian journalist, and she agreed to take part in a new documentary.

The 19-year-old seems relaxed and at ease with herself as she is filmed wandering around Barcelona, reading passages from her guidebook, and relaxing on a beach.

"I've lost my shyness towards other people," Natascha said.

"In the past, when I heard a loud noise, I used to feel unwell. I feel better now over time, but I still get scared very easily.

"It will take a while before I can trust people again."

Since she emerged from captivity, Natascha has been swamped by offers for her story.

Overnight she has become a media celebrity, but today she insists that she expects her privacy to be respected.

"The cameras follow me all the time," she said. "I wish people would be more sensitive."

"I am not a celebrity, I don't give autographs, they want to make me into a superstar, a kind of Paris Hilton."

Controversial relationship

Natascha spent eight-and-a-half years locked up in a tiny cellar in a house on the outskirts of Vienna, held prisoner by Wolfgang Priklopil.

Wolfgang Priklopil
All I can say is that I feel more and more sorry for him - he's a poor soul
Natascha Kampusch on her kidnapper

She was aged 10 when she was kidnapped on her way to school in March 1998.

Last year, on 23 August, she finally managed to escape while her captor was distracted by a phone call.

Hours later, her captor, a 44-year-old telecoms technician, committed suicide by throwing himself under a train.

Natascha admitted on Austrian television that she felt some pity for him.

"I feel more and more sorry for him. He's a poor soul," she said.

Natascha said she still wore some of the clothes which she was given during her captivity.

"The clothes remind me of the past," the teenager said.

"Somehow these old socks and T-shirts kept me warm. I still have to keep them," she said in the documentary, her voice breaking.

She has also indicated that she would like to meet Priklopil's mother one day, but so far, she has not.

Family rows

While Natascha is determined to live as normal a life as possible, she seems to be constantly in the public eye.

Natascha Kampusch's mother at her book launch
Natascha says her mother distorted the truth in her book

Her mother, Brigitte Sirny-Kampusch, has now written a book, called Desperate Years - My Life Without Natascha, which is a bestseller.

Natascha told Austrian television that she felt disappointed that some intimate details of her life had been revealed.

In the book, the mother claims that her daughter carries a photo of Priklopil's coffin in her handbag.

"I thought that I could trust her. I thought she was not going to tell anyone else. I showed my mother something which is on my mobile phone," said Natascha.

"In the book, my mother said that it was a photograph. That's not true.

"I admit, I said goodbye to him, why not? It was important. The last time I saw him alive was when he turned his back to me, and I ran away from him, I said goodbye to his coffin.

"I never wanted that to be published."

The mother describes Natascha's father, Ludwig Koch, in an unflattering light in the book.

He is reported to be planning to sue Natascha's mother.

TV fees

Apart from her parents' dispute, there is also a row over the millions Natascha has made from her various media appearances.

Natascha Kampusch
I am not a victim, just because other people say I am
Natascha Kampusch

Some people have raised questions about why Natascha has failed to set up a charitable foundation which she said that she would organise, to help abused women.

Natascha made a public appeal for donations last year, and according to reports, the fund only has 50,000 Euros (33,950) in its account and allegedly has not made any grants yet.

"Nothing has happened up until now," Natascha confessed in the interview with Austria's state ORF television.

"I have to look after this myself, but my intention is still to help other people.

"Money has come from different donors, my lawyers have looked after this, but as soon as I feel better, I shall take care of this."

Public scrutiny

Natascha is now living alone in an apartment in Vienna.

She is visited by her social worker, and she has regular therapy sessions.

Natascha Kampusch. File photo
It is impossible to describe accurately in words what torture or suffering is
Natascha Kampusch

But she is determined to show that she is standing on her own two feet.

"I am not a victim, just because other people say I am," she said.

The Austrian documentary shows Natascha taking driving lessons and learning archery.

She is also receiving private tuition to catch up with her school exams.

"I want to be taken seriously," she said. "I don't want the events of my case to be swept under the carpet.

"I am not claiming that nobody can understand what happened. Yet it is impossible to describe accurately in words what torture or suffering is."

But while Natascha tries to get on with her life and deal with her traumatic past, it is clear that she will continue to be the subject of intense public scrutiny for some time to come.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Images of Natascha Kampusch from the documentary



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