MOTIVE TO KILL
By ZOE SATHERLEY
IN A shock revelation, German investigators into the death of Simone Strobel have said the German tourist's three travelling companions are the chief suspects in her death.
They have targeted Simone's boyfriend, Tobias Suckfuell, 24; his sister, Katrin Suckfuell, 28; and their mutual friend, Jens Martin, 25, as her killers.
The Germans said the suspects had repeatedly lied to police about the the night Simone disappeared on February 11 this year from the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park in Dawson Street where they had been staying.
"They have a motive," German State Prosecutor, Erik Ohlenschlager, told a media conference in Lismore yesterday.
Asked what the motive could possibly be, Mr Ohlenschlager said: "No police officer in the world would tell you that."
Mr Ohlenschlager also refused to confirm or deny whether a sample of hair found in the fence wire of Lismore's Continental Club ?- near where Simone's body was found concealed under palm fronds on February 17 -? belonged to any of the murder suspects.
The club, on busy Uralba Street near Lismore Shopping Square, is only 90 metres away from where the group had been camping.
Mr Ohlenschlager said he didn't wish to comment on the lies the trio had told.
"We are concentrating our own investigations -? which are essential under German law -? around the three German suspects," he said.
"New questions have arisen during our investigation and we believe the answers to those questions are in Australia."
Mr Ohlenschlager said the Suckfuells and Jens Tobias were suspects because they were the last people to have contact with Simone.
"They have been lying from the beginning to Australian and German police about important facts of the investigation, and they also have a motive," he said.
Asked if Lismore police agreed with the German team's suspicions, Richmond Local Area Commander Supt Bruce Lyons would only say: "Simone's companions have always been prominent in our lines of inquiry.
"We are looking at this inquiry as if someone was murdered.
"The community can be well assured and comforted that Australian and German authorities are working closely together and sharing information to ensure the person or persons who killed Simone are brought to justice."
Mr Ohlenschlager said that Katrin Suckfuell and Jens Tobias were living in Germany, while Tobias Suckfuell was in South Africa.
He would not say whether Tobias Suckfuell or the other suspects were under surveillance.
Was an arrest imminent?
"If it was imminent, I wouldn't be telling you about it," he said.
Mr Ohlenschlager praised Lismore police and the Sydney Homicide Squad.
"During my years as head of the international aid department I have rarely seen investigative work being conducted so efficiently and with such a high profes- sional standard," he said.