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Police should be hunting a killer
NEW ASH GREEN: Father believes nurse was murdered
MISSING: Nurse Louise Kertonís disappearance should be treated as murder
THE father of missing student nurse Louise Kerton believes his 24-year-old daughter is dead.
Phil Kerton says he is now convinced someone is covering up her murder.
Mr Kerton, 56, of Lambards Grove, New Ash Green, is angry German prosecution services have failed to upgrade his daughter's case to a murder inquiry.
He said: "We think she is dead and someone is covering up the fact that she is dead. We believe she has been unlawfully killed."
Miss Kerton vanished last July while staying with her fiance's mother, Ramana Simon, in Strassfeld, a small village in western Germany.
The family have employed a private detective to spark interest in the case and get the German authorities to treat it as a murder and not a missing person investigation.
Mr Kerton said: "There is a danger the longer we wait, the more the evidence will go cold."
"Despite efforts by all three police forces, the German prosecution service has failed to upgrade the case to a murder inquiry.
"One of the problems is that evidence collected by Kent police and Belgium police cannot be submitted to the German courts.
"Bureaucratic prosecutors are stifling what is important evidence; evidence the German prosecution should be considering in their decision.
"There are diplomatic efforts being bought to bear by the Foreign Office on German ministers to get the log jam cleared."
The decision not to upgrade the case came after Kent, Belgium and German police forces met last week in Margate to discuss all the issues surrounding the investigation.
A Kent police spokesman said: "The German police have already made applications to the German public prosecution service to treat Louise's disappearance as a criminal investigation.
"To date, these applications have failed in spite of all the information passed to them from Kent Police."
He added: "All three forces have pledged a commitment to take every action possible under the laws of the respective countries to discover the whereabouts of Louise.
"In Kent, we have already followed up 98 lines of enquiry and taken formal statements from 20 witnesses. Similar action has been taken in Germany and Belgium."
Private investigator Dai Davis believes there are reasonable grounds for suspicion Louise has come to great harm.
He said: "We're still hoping that once the prosecutors see all the new facts, it will be taken forward and treated as a murder inquiry."