Monday, 16 March 2009

Fritzl pleads guilty to rape (ITV News)

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Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children by her, has gone on trial in Austria.
The 73-year-old, who kept his face shielded with a blue legal folder, denied murder but pleaded guilty to rape, incest, coercion and false imprisonment.
Fritzl also said he was innocent of a charge of enslaving Elisabeth, now 42, for most of her life. She was allegedly kept with the children in a windowless 60 sq metre (650 sq ft) dungeon beneath the family home in Amstetten.
Three of her children grew up underground while the others were taken upstairs by Fritzl. It is alleged one child, a twin who died in infancy in 1996, might have survived if taken to a doctor.
Fritzl has allegedly told police he burned the newborn boy's body in a furnace after he suffered breathing problems and died. Legal experts have said the murder charge will be complicated by the absence of forensic evidence.
In court, Fritzl remained silent and motionless, ignoring questions from television crews, before the judge and jury of six men and six women entered and cameras were sent out, when he put the folder down.
Elisabeth has given hours of disturbing evidence which will just be shown to the jury via video.
His lawyer Rudolf Mayer said: "He feels remorseful about the personality he has and what he did to the victims based on this personality." He said Fritzl loved his daughter "in his own way".
Elisabeth and her six children are now living in a secret location under new identities. She has told police she was kept on a leash in the early months of her imprisonment and that Fritzl told them they would be killed using gas if they tried to escape.
Fritzl's wife, Rosemarie, said she believed Elisabeth - who her husband told her had joined a cult - had abandoned the babies at the front door.
He was finally discovered when one of the children, 19-year-old Kerstin, fell ill and Fritzl agreed to bring her upstairs so she could go to hospital.
When doctors made a television appeal for her mother to come forward to provide information about the girl's medical history, Fritzl accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital.
The world's media has converged on the courthouse in St Poelten, west of Vienna, for the trial, which is scheduled to last just five days. The jury is expected to deliver its verdict on March 20.
The case emerged less than two years after Austrian teenager Natascha Kampusch escaped from a basement where she had been held by a kidnapper for eight years.

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