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Probe on Fritzl link to girl’s murder

POLICE are examining possible links between a young woman’s murder and the man who confessed to holding his daughter captive and fathering her seven children, a senior law enforcement official said yesterday.

The bound body of 17-year-old Martina Posch was found on a shore of Mondsee lake in 1986.

Josef Fritzl’s wife owned part of an inn and camping ground on the other side of the lake at that time.

“We are looking at the case from a third angle,” said police chief Alois Lissl.

Fritzl, 73, confessed on Monday to imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth for 24 years in a warren of soundproofed cellar rooms, sexually abusing her, fathering seven children with her and discarding the body of one, who died in infancy, in a furnace.

Three of the children were locked in the underground labyrinth with their mother since their birth.

The case started unfolding on April 19 when one of the children was found unconscious and was taken to hospital. The child, 19-year-old Kerstin, who is the eldest, is seriously ill and on a ventilator.

After receiving a tip, police picked up Elisabeth and her father on Saturday. Fritzl freed the captive children the same day.

The children and their mother are inching towards normal life in a spacious hospital wing, doctors said yesterday. Elisabeth and two of her children now have an entire wing to themselves.

They are being treated along with another three of her children who were taken away at birth and raised normally by her parents.

“The young people have space to play, they can run around,” said Dr Berthold Kepplinger from the clinic near the town of Amstetten.

“The members of the family talk a lot, they are very happy to be together,” adding that the family held an impromptu birthday party for the second-youngest, 12-year-old Alexander.

Dr Keplinger said although all the others were relatively healthy, “there is a difference between those who had a normal life and those who lived up to 24 years in this dungeon. They have to get used to the daylight and space and room”.

Authorities are trying to decide the future of Kerstin and her two brothers, Felix and Stefan, aged five and 18, who effectively have no identities. Officials have discussed the possibility of providing new names for the children, who “never saw sunlight” until they were freed from the basement.

Dr Kepplinger said Stefan could read and write in a “reduced form”.

He said Elisabeth had spoken “quite a lot” about what she went through, but declined to provide details.

Meanwhile, Fritzl is refusing to talk to police or explain why he put his daughter and her children through such an ordeal.

Fritzl’s wife, who police insist knew nothing, has been allowed visit Elisabeth and the children in hospital.

Psychiatrists and doctors are counselling the mother and children on how to come to terms with their ordeal. But experts said they were likely to need years of therapy.

“It could take between five and eight years,” said Max Friedrich, the psychiatrist who treated a similar victim, Natascha Kampusch.

Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said yesterday the government planned to launch an image campaign to restore its reputation abroad.

“It’s not Austria that is the perpetrator. This is an unfathomable criminal case, but also an isolated case,” Gusenbauer said.

“We won’t allow the whole country to be held hostage by one man.”


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