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Europe

Fritzl says daughter's video testimony made him plead guilty

©

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-19

Josef Fritzl has changed his plea to guilty on all counts - including murder and slavery - on the third day of his trial. He had already pleaded guilty to rape and incest. He said it was his daughter's videotaped testimony that changed his mind.

Josef Fritzl admitted to all charges on Wednesday, on the third day of his abuse trial in the Austrian city of St.Poelten near Vienna.

 

"I plead guilty to the crimes I've been charged with," the 73-year-old Austrian told the court. “And I’m sorry,” he said.



Fritzl had already admitted locking up and raping his daughter, Elisabeth, in the family home’s underground bunker for 24 years, and fathering her seven children. He accepted the charges on the first day of the trial but denied murder and slavery.

 

On Wednesday, Fritzl changed his plea in response to his daughter’s taped testimony, which was shown in court the previous two days.

 

Meanwhile Friztl's lawyer, Rudolf Meyer, said he didn't know his client had decided to plead guilty to all charges, FRANCE 24's special correspondent Angela Yeoh reported from St.Poelten.


‘Psychiatric care to avoid re-offending’

 

Psychiatric and technical experts took centre stage on Wednesday. Psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner concluded in a report that Fritzl suffered serious personality problems.

 

“Fritzl sat, expressionless, as a psychiatrist gives the court details of the accused's psychological profile,” Yeoh reported from inside the courtroom via a text message. “Psychiatrist who examined Fritzl testifies that Fritzl's mother never cared for him,” she added.

 

Kaster said Fritzl needed psychiatric care to avoid risk of re-offending. "The danger is still very much there that he will reoffend if he is not treated," Kastner told the court. "It is necessary that he continue being treated until he can no longer be classified as dangerous. Thus, the conditions are in place for him to be put in a psychiatric institute," he added.

 

The “Austrian monster” is held responsible for the death of one of Elisabeth's seven children, who he fathered. Fritzl maintained the baby was stillborn and that he had burned the body.

 

The prosecution accused him of treating his daughter like "a toy" and of raping her in front of her children. Fritzl imprisoned his daughter and her three children in a cellar without any hot water, heating, sunlight or fresh air. He convinced his wife Rosemarie to take the three other children in.

 

Fritzl faces life imprisonment after pleading guilty to murder and enslavement.

 

Date created : 2009-03-18

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