Fritzl dungeon trial likely this year

Fritzl dungeon trial likely this year

The Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children by raping her is expected to go on trial before the end of the year.

The Josef Fritzl case will begin this autumn or winter and preparations were running “at full speed”, said court spokesman Franz Cutka.

Fritzl, aged 73, has confessed to holding his daughter Elisabeth captive in a windowless dungeon he built beneath his home in the town of Amstetten.

DNA tests have confirmed he is the father of six of his daughter’s children. Fritzl has said he threw the body of the seventh child in a furnace after it died in infancy.

Fritzl remains in custody. His victims – including the now 42-year-old daughter whom he locked up when she was 18 – are getting counselling at a psychiatric clinic.

Prosecutors are expected to begin interviewing Fritzl’s wife, daughter and the children sometime next month.

Fritzl’s lawyer will be given an opportunity to ask questions of Elisabeth via a video link and footage of the questioning will be presented during the trial itself.

Acknowledging intense worldwide media interest in the case, Mr Cutka said journalists would be required to accredit themselves for the trial and would be issued “reserved tickets” to cover the proceedings.

He did not say when the accreditation process would begin, but said the court would videotape and photograph the trial and make images available to media.

Fritzl is expected to be formally charged after authorities wrap up their investigation, which is still continuing.

Fritzl kept the affair secret with a cover story that Elisabeth ran away at 18 to join a religious cult.

He and his wife raised three of the children he fathered with his daughter after Fritzl claimed Elisabeth left them at the doorstep of the family’s home.

The other three were confined underground and never saw daylight until they finally gained their freedom in late April.

The case came to light after one of the children Fritzl fathered, who is now 19, became seriously ill and was dropped off at a hospital in April.

Doctors unable to find any of the young woman’s medical records appealed to her mother to come forward, and officials say Fritzl released Elisabeth, who told police what had happened to her.

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