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Eldest child in incest case reunited with family

Latest update : 2008-06-11

The eldest child of an incestuous relationship between Austrian Josef Fritzl (photo) and his daughter was reunited with her family. Frizl had confined his daughter for 24 years and bore seven children with her. (Report: N. Germain)

ZEILLERN, Austria, June 11 (Reuters) - The eldest child of
an incestuous relationship between Austrian Josef Fritzl and the
daughter he confined for 24 years has been reunited with her
family after recovering from an artificial coma, doctors said.

Doctors also said on Wednesday the whole family -- Fritzl's
daughter Elisabeth and the six surviving of seven children she
bore him while locked in a cellar -- had been moved into a house
on hospital premises to promote a normal living environment.

Fritzl, 73, in investigative custody since the case was
exposed in April, marooned Elisabeth, now 42, in a windowless
basement under his house in the central town of Amstetten -- a
marathon, bizarre ordeal that scandalised the world.

"The reunion of (Elisabeth's eldest daughter) Kerstin with
her family a few days ago was a moving moment, and for us the
surprising recuperation of Kerstin was a great relief," Berthold
Kepplinger, director of the central Austrian hospital where
Fritzl's victims have been treated, told a news conference.

Kerstin was expected to make a "full recovery", he said.

Kerstin, 19, who was placed into an artificial coma after
she suffered cramping fits due to oxygen deficiency and kidney
problems, opened her eyes on May 15. After therapy to restore
mobility, she rejoined her family on Sunday, doctors said.

Albert Reiter, the family's doctor, glowingly described how
he was able to escort Kerstin into her new home.

"It was an extraordinary moment for me last Sunday when
Kerstin, holding my arm, and I were able to walk through the
door into a new home, crossing the threshold into a new life,"
Reiter said.

"The entire family is very happy that they are all together
for the first time," said their lawyer, Christoph Herbst.

Three of the seven children of the incestuous liaison, the
youngest of whom is now aged five, were incarcerated with their
mother, while another three were raised by Fritzl and his wife
Rosemarie as their own. One child died shortly after birth.

Prosecutors are investigating Fritzl for coercion, rape,
incest and the death of the baby, though he has not been
charged. Police say he has admitted incarceration and incest.

Rosemarie is not under suspicion and is with the rest of the
family at the residence on the hospital grounds in Amstetten.

The cellar victims are receiving further therapy there as
well as schooling and other guidance to start preparing them for
life in the outside world.

The case came to light two months ago after Kerstin fell
seriously ill and was brought to the hospital by Fritzl.

Herbst said Elisabeth did not plan to discuss the case in
public and urged a curious international media to let the family
build a normal life in privacy.

Date created : 2008-06-11