Related News

Home » World

Trial starts in father-daughter sex-slave case

AN Austrian man accused of fathering his daughter's seven children as he locked her in a basement for decades pleaded guilty to incest but insisted he was innocent of murder charges as his trial opened yesterday.

Josef Fritzl hid his face behind a blue file folder as a judge began the proceedings under heavy security in St Poelten, 65 kilometers west of Vienna. Fritzl pleaded guilty to incest and false imprisonment, but only partially guilty to charges of coercion and rape. He pleaded not guilty to murder and enslavement.

Fritzl, 73, faces up to life imprisonment if convicted of murder in Austria, which has no death penalty. A verdict was expected by Friday.

If convicted of enslavement, Fritzl could face up to 20 years behind bars. For rape, he could get up to 15. Incest is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Authorities say Fritzl imprisoned and repeatedly raped his daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years in a cramped and windowless dungeon he built beneath the family's home in the western town of Amstetten. Investigators say DNA tests show he fathered her six surviving children.

The crime stunned people worldwide when it came to light last April.

Another child died in infancy, and that prompted the murder charge. Prosecutors contend the baby boy might have survived if Fritzl had arranged for medical care.

In her opening statement, prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser accused Fritzl of repeatedly raping his daughter in front of the children.

Burkheiser said Fritzl didn't talk to his daughter during her first few years in captivity and that he simply came down to the cellar to rape her.

"Josef Fritzl used his daughter like his property," Burkheiser said.

The prosecutor alleged that Fritzl once punished the young woman by shutting off electricity to the dungeon and forced her to spend the first part of her captivity in a tiny space that didn't even have a shower or warm water.

"The worst was ... there was no daylight," Burkheiser said, adding it was also "incredibly humid" in the cramped space and the air was moldy and stale.

Burkheiser said Elisabeth was "broken" by Fritzl's alleged actions and the uncertainty of her fate and that of her children.

"He was the one who decided when to bring groceries ... there were shortages," she said.

Three of the children grew up underground in Amstetten, never seeing daylight. The other three were brought upstairs to be raised by Fritzl and his wife, Rosemarie, who apparently believed they had been abandoned.

The children, together with Elisabeth, initially recovered from their ordeal in a psychiatric clinic and then were moved to a secret location.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend