The German accused of murdering his then-girlfriend Simone Strobel in Australia has been released on bail and is back with his family in Perth. Photos circulating in Australian media showed the 42-year-old hugging his pregnant wife at the Western Australian metropolis airport on Friday.
A Sydney court on Thursday granted his defense's request for release on bail. The public prosecutor's office had initially stated that they wanted to lodge an objection - but later they gave up the plan.
Strobel's ex-boyfriend was taken from his home in Perth, Western Australia, last week and flown to Sydney. There he was charged with murder. He is now married to an Australian and took her name. The arrest was a surprising twist in a case that has remained unsolved for 17 years, despite a thorough investigation.
The bail conditions include that the defendant must report to a police station three times a week and surrender his passport, according to the court order. He is also not allowed to use encrypted communication services such as Whatsapp. The next court hearing is scheduled for late September.
The 25-year-old kindergarten teacher Simone Strobel from Lower Franconia was traveling with her then 24-year-old boyfriend in a mobile home in Australia in 2005. Later, the friend's sister and her friend from Germany joined them. The four were at a campsite in Lismore, north-east New South Wales, when Strobel suddenly disappeared. A few days later, her body was found under palm fronds near the campsite.
Judge Margaret Quinn accused the prosecution on Thursday of having presented little evidence to support their allegations. While there is evidence that Strobel and her then-boyfriend argued and drank shortly before the murder, "there does not appear to be any direct or indirect evidence in this case linking him to the crime," she said.
In issue 5, stern Crime reported extensively on the murder of Simone Strobel. Read the whole story here at stern Crime PLUS (also available as an audio story) or download the e-paper here.