It was a warm summer morning in Pechbusque, France, on the 10th of July, 1982. André Bamberski was in his home when his phone began to ring. André was a successful accountant. On the other end of the line was Daniele, his ex-wife, who lived in Lindau, Germany. She informed André that their only daughter, 14-year-old Kalinka, was dead.
André couldn’t comprehend what he was hearing. How could his daughter be dead? She was a happy and healthy teenager and was active in numerous sports. According to Daniele, Kalinka had died in the middle of the night. She said that an autopsy had not yet been conducted but that one could be carried out shortly.
Daniele knew all about the autopsy protocol because her husband, Dieter Krombach, was a well-known doctor and former diplomat with friends in very high places. In 1975, Daniele had left André for Krombach and she and Kalinka and Kalinka’s brother had moved in with Krombach.
André soon discovered that it was Krombach who had discovered the body of Kalinka and called for the doctor. When Dr. Jobst arrived at the scene, Krombach had told him that at around 7:30PM the previous evening, he had injected Kalinka with a “compound” which he refused to name. According to Krombach, the compound was to help Kalinka tan more easily. He said that at around midnight, he then gave her a sleeping tablet when she could not sleep.
The autopsy was conducted by Dr. Hohmann and Dr. Dohmann. Krombach was present during the examination. The autopsy found that Kalinka’s vagina had been torn and blood was found in her underwear. There were also several injection marks on her arms, legs and throat. An internal examination turned up a white substance in her vagina and undigested food inside her stomach.
No toxicology tests were conducted and the estimated time of death was between 3AM and 4AM. However, this doesn’t explain the undigested food – Kalinka had last eaten at 7PM and her food would have been digested by that time. Furthermore, the white substance was never analysed.
Despite these suspicious findings, Krombach was not formally interviewed. Commissioner Gebath of the Lindau police, however, did speak with him over the phone. During this conversation, Krombach offered a different version of events to the one he told Dr. Jobst. He told Gebath that he had injected Kalinka with iron and cobalt to treat anaemia at around dinner time. He also said that when he found her unconscious, he injected her with dopamine and dilaudid in a bid to wake her up.
The doctors concluded that there was no foul play. They couldn’t determine her cause of death but “experts” suggested that Kalikna had died from heart failure after having sunstroke from windsurfing the previous day.1
Around three months later, André finally received a copy of his daughter’s autopsy report. By this time, the case had already been long closed. A wave of dread washed over André as he read the findings. To him, it read as though his daughter had been drugged, raped and then murdered and then her killer allowed to go free.
André devoted his life to pursuing Krombach. He demanded that a second autopsy be carried out. However, when Kalinka’s body was finally exhumed, it was discovered that her sexual organs had been removed, ruling out testing on the white substance. The autopsy report was reviewed by Professor Spann of the Munich Forensic Institute. Spann cast doubt on Krombach’s testimony and concluded that the iron and cobalt injection had been administered much later than when he claimed.
When authorities refused to re-open the case, André travelled to Germany to deliver leaflets to Krombach’s neighbours. “I had written to the inhabitants. I told them that they had to know that in their town there was a criminal doctor, and I gave his name, address and said that he had raped and killed my daughter,” he later said.2 Krombach fought back with a defamation lawsuit and won damages of £150,000. André refused to pay.
After years of campaigning, André finally convinced authorities to file murder charges against Krombach.
In 1995, a trial in absentia took place because Germany refused to extradite Krombach, stating that the case had been closed in 1987 and German citizens could not be extradited. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but didn’t serve a day. Instead, he continued living a comfortable life in Germany.
While in Germany, Kromach was convicted of drugging sexually assaulting a teenage patient in his office. He was fired from his role but only received a suspended sentence. Shortly thereafter, several other women came forward to say they had been drugged and assaulted by Krombach. However, due to lack of physical evidence, the cases were not pursued. Meanwhile, Daniele divorced Krombach.
Infuriated, André refused to give up in his fight for justice. He hired private detectives to track Krombach down, even after he moved home and changed his phone number.
In the early morning hours of 18 October, 2009, French police received an anonymous tip from someone informing them that in the residential street of Rue du Tilleul in Mulhouse, they would discover a notorious fugitive. When they arrived, they found Dr. Dieter Krombach, gagged and bleeding on the pavement.
You may be questioning how Krombach got here… Well, André Bamberski was sick of waiting around for the slow wheels of justice and decided to take things into his own hands. He paid several men to abduct Krombach from his home in Bavaria and drive him to Mulhouse, France, where he was found by police. Germany demanded that Kromach be returned and Bamberski and the abductors be extradited to Germany. France refused and instead, charged Krombach in relation to the death of Kalinka and released Bamberski on bail.
Krombach’s lawyer launched seven attempts to have his trial stopped but to no avail. “This trial is the culmination of 29 years of exhausting initiatives, of dysfunction and judicial bungling. It is true that I have been relentless in my pursuit of the truth but I regret nothing, even if I have sacrificed part of my life,” said André.3
Dieter Krombach was found guilty of “deliberate violence leading to involuntary death.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, finally ending one of the most bizarre cross border judicial disputes in legal history. “My first thought is for Kalinka, said André. “What I promised her, what I wanted was a complete and fair trial. Now that goal has been reached. Justice has been done in her memory and now I will be able to mourn for her.”
Bamberski stood trial in France for his part in the abduction. He confessed and said that he had been “morally bound” to abduct Krombach.”4 He received a one year suspended jail sentence. The prosecutor praised André for his “courage and perseverance.5
- The Times, 9 March, 2010 – “Father Turned to Kidnap in 27 Year Fight for Justice”
- The Observer, 24 October, 2010 – “Special Report: Kalinka Bamberski”
- The Times, 30 March, 2011 – “Father of Dead Girl Sees Doctor He Kidnapped Face Court at Last”
- The Times, 19 June, 2014 – “Praise for the Father Who Kidnapped Killer”
- The Sunday Mirror, 20 June, 2014 – “I Kidnapped My Daughter’s Killer From Germany”