Backgrounder: Incest case of Josef Fritzl
www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-19 23:04:36   Print

    VIENNA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- An Austrian man, who raped, imprisoned and abused his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, on Thursday was sentenced to life imprisonment.

    Josef Fritzl, 73, on Wednesday admitted guilt to all charges, including murder and enslavement.

    Fritzl, who initially admitted incest but denied murder and enslavement at the start of Monday's trial, made a surprising turnabout on Wednesday after watching his daughter Elisabeth describe her ordeal in an 11-hour video testimony.

    "I plead guilty to the crimes I've been charged with. I'm sorry," Fritzl, a retired engineer, said.

    For nearly a quarter of a century since 1984, Elisabeth, now 42,had been locked up by her father in a cellar under their house some 100 kilometers west of Vienna and experienced brutal sexual abuses and gave birth to seven children.

    Fritzl's abuses came to light last April when he took the eldest child to hospital after she became seriously ill.

    He was accused of murder for letting one of the children die shortly after birth.

    Fritzl admitted he had failed to seek help for the child who had experienced breathing problems shortly after birth. The child died 66 hours later and the accused got rid of the body by burning it.

    "I was hoping the little one would survive but I should have done something. I don't know why I didn't help. I just lost sight (of what happened)," he said in court.

    The children who were held captive had to watch Fritzl repeatedly rape their mother in the dungeon which had no hot water, no heating, no fresh air or sunlight, according to the prosecution, who said he treated Elisabeth like his property.

    The case, among several similar ones in recent years, has seriously tainted Austria's image, known for it wonderful music and beautiful scenery.

    In 1998, a 10-year-old Austrian girl was kidnapped by a man on her way to school. She was locked in a cell and sexually abused for more than eight years before managing to escape in 2006.

    In 2007, three Austrian girls, aged 14, 18 and 21, were found to have been locked up by their mother in a house for seven years, neglected and isolated from the outside world.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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