Monday, 02. March 2015
15. 03. 09. - 16:00
The shocking case of the Austrian man who locked up his daughter in a secret dungeon to rape and father an incest family with her begins Monday amid warnings of it turning into a farce.
One legal expert believes Josef Fritzl, 73, could be free in just six and-a-half years if found guilty of most of his crimes at the trial in which the media is banned from attending.
Dr. Raoul Wagner, an eminent Viennese lawyer, warned that the charges have "little chance of working to keep Fritzl in jail for life."
Fritzl faces a plethora of counts that include rape, incest, false imprisonment, slavery, coercion, deprivation of liberty and one of murder.
That relates to a baby born in the cellar in 1996. One of twins, baby Michael survived just three days. Fritzl picked up the tiny baby’s shrivelled body and burned it in the heating stove of the house.
Prosecutors say that by depriving the child of urgent medical care he was, in fact, its murderer.
Fritzl denies that charge but admits in principle to most of the others.
But Wagner says: "I am convinced that after six and a half years he will be free again. The murder charge has no chance as the body was allegedly burnt and the ashes scattered in the garden. There is no body and only Elisabeth's word over the details.
"The slavery charge has never been used since it was put on the books, and it does not really affect what happened here. He did not buy or sell his daughter in the slave trade - and the charge does not apply.
"At the most the incest and rape charge apply, and as sentences run concurrently the most he would face would be rape - which means 7.5 years with good behaviour, which with the year already spent inside means 6.5 years he could be released.
"In a case like this the Austrian legal system is a nonsense. In America for 3,000 rapes a person would face 30,000 years in jail."
In addition the decision to ban the media and public from most of the trial is also risky, as it means there could be allegations that the trial was not properly conducted.
Constitutional expert Heinz Mayer warned: "If anyone were to raise an objection against the exclusion of the public then the whole proceedings might need to happen again."
Over the course of this week jurors will hear a tale of unparalleled horror; of 3,000 rapes, solitary childbirth in the darkness of a rat-infested cellar, beatings, humiliation and near-starvation endured by Elisabeth Fritzl.
Elisabeth was 18 in 1984 when her sexually obsessed, convicted rapist father Josef, drugged her with ether and walled her up in the clandestine grotto he carved from beneath the family home in Amstetten, Austria.
The court will hear how for the first six to nine months – Elisabeth is unsure because there was no way to measure time except in her head – she was kept chained to four poles with an iron girdle device around her middle. Fritzl only removed it in the end because it interfered with his sex sessions.
Jurors have been promised psychiatric counselling if the evidence becomes too much for them to bear.
She will tell via videoed testimony – she never wants to set eyes on her tormentor again – how he began abusing her when she was just 11, leaving pornographic magazines in her room and masturbating in front of her.
This was the precursor to the hell of the cellar where he would rape her for hours on end, often in front of the children she bore him.
Other evidence includes the findings of psychiatrists about Fritzl’s state of mind, the health of the six cellar children, from police, from buildings experts speaking about the cellar’s construction and from paediatricians.
Also during the course of the trial Austrian bureaucracy will have to give its version of events: why a convicted sex offender got away with his crimes for so long.
Fritzl removed three of the cellar babies to live upstairs with him and his wife Rosemarie. His charade included "dumping" them on the doorstep with notes Elisabeth wrote under duress claiming she had joined a cult and couldn’t cope with bringing the babies up.
Social workers will have to answer why they entered his home – a house of fear, by all accounts, where his family dreaded his presence – 21 times and were never suspicious about him.
Still haunted by their failures, the public administration of Amstetten – the mayor and senior civil servants – have all gone on vacation during the trial to avoid the world’s media that has once again descended on Austria.
Fritzl will be led the 300 yards from his jail cell at 8.30 am UK time today MON into the wood-panelled courtroom in St. Poelten for the start of proceedings.
He will seek to mitigate his horror by saying he incarcerated his daughter to save her from a life of drink, drugs and debauchery, that he loved her in his own way and was "merciful" to the children.
But his own children by his marriage to Rosemarie have turned against him too: His son Harald is expected to testify that all feared him and endured beatings and abuse throughout their upbringing.
Elisabeth, who has fallen out with her mother because she took her father back after he served a sentence for raping a woman in 1967, has moved back into a psychiatric clinic with her six children for the duration of the trial. She fears an invasion of reporters to the home she now lives in.
» General News 2013-07-31
Following widespread protest at the deportation of the “abbey asylum seekers”, Vienna state prosecution has announced that 3 are human traffickers.
» General News 2011-10-21
The father of a young woman who was kidnapped at the age of 10 in 1998 and locked up by her pervert captor for eight years has been arrested, according to a report.
» General News 2011-10-19
An appeal court has confirmed a fine issued to director, actor and author Paulus Manker.
Semmering Offers 50% Discount To Selected Heroes
The Magic Mountain Semmering will hold two Weeks of Heroes from 1st to 14th March as Panhans Holding Group says thank you to safety and well-being volunteers and professionals.
Skier Survived Almost Two Hours Buried Alive
A skier had a miracle escape after being buried under two metres of snow for nearly two hours during an avalanche in Austria, it was revealed last night.
Puppies Found Stuffed Inside Suitcase In Back Of Van
A litter of puppies destined for a dog farm was rescued after being found stuffed inside suitcases in the back of a van.
Kangaroo That Hopped It Spotted In Garden
Austrian police investigating reports of an escaped kangaroo have been given concrete proof after a local woman managed to photograph the animal in her back garden.
First Images Of Eurovision Stage
These are the first images of the design for the Eurovision Song Contest stage unveiled in the Austrian capital Vienna which is the home of last year's winner Conchita Wurst.
Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station
A Russian mobster wanted for a string of brutal murders was arrested in the gentile Austrian capital Vienna when commandos swooped as he went to buy a train ticket.
Teen Girls Arrested After Offering Themselves To IS Fighters
Austrian officials who recently cracked down on terrorism by arresting several people believed to be recruiting and fundraising for ISIS have revealed two more teenage girls tried to leave the country to marry terrorist fighters.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Lion Fed On Milk To Keep Him Small For Pictures|
|Porn Star Arrested After High Speed Police Chase|
|Wanted Mafia Boss Captured After YouTube Baptism|
|Mentally Ill Girl Locked Up By Parents For 6 Years|
|Czech Oscars Team Fail To Spot Jim Carrey Hoaxer|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.