September 5, 2006

Austrian hostage girl tried to call for help: report

VIENNA (Reuters) - The Austrian girl held captive in an
underground cell for eight years told on Tuesday how she tried
to signal for help with her eyes when she met other people
during occasional outings with her captor.

But her attempts went unnoticed, Natascha Kampusch -- the
now 18-year-old who escaped her ordeal last month -- told
Austrian television's Christoph Feurstein in an interview due
to go on air Wednesday evening, Feurstein said.

"There were moments in the interview that really gave me
the creeps," Feurstein told ORF's late news show on Tuesday
after shooting the interview.

"She told me today she made eye contact with people time
and again and wanted to signal them, 'Please help me!',"
Feurstein said. "And nobody reacted."

Austria is gripped by anticipation of the three interviews
with Kampusch all due to be published on Wednesday. Apart from
state channel ORF, she talked to journalists from daily
newspaper Kronen-Zeitung and weekly magazine News.

Her remarks are set to amplify soul-searching in the Alpine
nation already wondering how this extraordinary crime could
have gone on unnoticed for eight years in a sedate commuter
town outside Vienna.

A colleague of Wolfgang Priklopil, her captor, who met her
during one of the outings in July, said last week she had
looked "happy" at the time. A neighbor said he had thought she
was Priklopil's girlfriend.

Kampusch dashed to freedom on August 23 when Priklopil was
distracted from watching her vacuum his BMW automobile.

The communications technician had abducted her on her way
to school and kept her locked up in a small, windowless cell
beneath his garage. He killed himself by jumping under a train
a few hours after her escape.

So far, Kampusch's only public comment was a statement read
by a psychiatrist at a news conference last week. The only
pictures available show her as a 10 year-old before her

While Kampusch's media advisor had said on Monday she would
not be recognizable in the interview, Feurstein said she had
eventually made the decision to allow her image be shown.

Feurstein said Kampusch was intelligent and self-confident
and had plans for the future, such as completing her education.

"She was very energetic, very active, full of wishes and
dreams for the future," he said. "She had been looking forward
to the interview and did it incredibly well."

ORF will broadcast the interview at 8.15 p.m. Austrian time
(1815 GMT). German TV station RTL will show it an hour later.
Other international stations have to wait until 2200 GMT. News
and Kronen-Zeitung are expected to hit newsstands at 4.30 p.m.