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Herr Schmitz Tries the Hard Cell

As Kim Schmitz sees it, jail is only a temporary setback to his career as a hard-partying Internet entrepreneur (see BW Online, 4/11/02, "This Ex-Hacker's Fat Is in the Fire"). Schmitz, 28, insists that his spirit is "unbreakable" and that he'll disprove charges that he pocketed $1 million by manipulating the price of online retailer's shares. Schmitz's avenues of communication are limited as he sits in a Munich jail awaiting trial. But he agreed to answer written questions submitted by BusinessWeek Frankfurt Bureau Chief Jack Ewing. Schmitz's lawyer, Thomas Pfister, acted as go-between. Here's an edited excerpts of the interview:

Q: How's life behind bars?

A: Of course, I've seen better times, but I have a built-in take-it-easy mechanism, which activates itself in these situations. I'm innocent and able to prove it. My spirit is unbreakable. I can easily stand this challenge.

Q: What are your plans after your release?

A: I will have to start from zero again, but that's not a problem. I know the way up, and it won't take much time to return to where I belong. I'm developing new business plans and will start looking for venture capital once this is over. And here's my bet: I will make 100 million euros within five years. If I fail, I will have the German flag tatooed on my forehead.

Q: Do you plan to modify your lifestyle? Will you continue to hold lavish parties?

A: The secret of my success is my lifestyle. Those parties and events generated more business than any other activities. My parties will get even bigger in the future. I need to maintain my profile as Mr. Decadence.

Q: Has this experience changed you?

A: Surviving troubles like these makes you stronger. It has taught me to be better prepared in the future and that Germany has no space for heroes.

Q: Do you feel you have done anything wrong?

A: I have made a lot of mistakes all my life. This is important, because it's the best way to learn. When it comes to my case, I did not do anything wrong. I'm innocent. The truth will win.

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