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Prosecutor calls for 'maximum sentence' for Fritzl

Latest update : 2009-03-20

A day after pleading guilty on all counts, Josef Fritzl faces sentencing Thursday on charges including incest and murder by neglect. The man who fathered seven children with his daughter is expected to be jailed for the rest of his life.

AFP - Josef Fritzl finds out on Thursday how long he will have to spend behind bars for locking up and raping his daughter over 24 years, at the end of his trial for incest and murder.

He faces life in prison for murder.

Fritzl, 73, stunned the court Wednesday by pleading guilty to murder and enslavement, reversing his previous plea.

He has likewise admitted rape, incest and sequestration for fathering his daughter Elisabeth's seven children during 24 years of sexual abuse in a damp cellar.

Fritzl may also be sent to a facility for mentally abnormal offenders, as requested by the prosecution, if the jury deems he risks re-offending.

Psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner, who concluded in a report that Fritzl was responsible for his actions over the past 24 years, told the court Wednesday that he still posed a danger and should be admitted to a mental facility.

The prosecution accuses Fritzl of murder for letting a baby die shortly after birth in the cellar where he kept his daughter as his sex slave.  

But after denying for months that he played any part in the death, Fritzl admitted in court Wednesday that he knew the baby was ill.

"I don't know why I didn't help," he said, teary-eyed.

The shocking trial, which has attracted attention from around the world, was to resume Thursday with closing statements from the prosecution and defence.

The verdict and sentence were expected in the afternoon after deliberations by the eight jurors and three judges.

Fritzl, who appeared at the start of the trial holding up a blue document file to hide his face, was confronted for the first time this week with his daughter's testimony regarding her ordeal, which began when she was 18.

This is what prompted his change of plea, he told the court, adding "I'm sorry."

Fritzl, who many have described as a tyrant who ruled his family with an iron fist, locked his daughter up in a cellar of his own home on August 29, 1984.

He said she had joined an obscure sect.

Throughout the years of sexual abuse, Elisabeth gave birth to seven children, one of which died shortly after birth.

Three were brought to live with Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie, 69 -- with whom he had already had seven children -- while three others spent their entire lives in the dungeon, never seeing daylight.

At the start of the trial on Monday, prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser noted Fritzl had used his daughter "as a toy," describing the "morbid atmosphere" in the cellar, which had no hot water, no heating, no fresh air or sunlight.

Psychiatrist Kastner added that of all his children Fritzl had chosen Elisabeth as his victim because dominating her would give him the greatest satisfaction: "She was as stubborn as me, as strong as me."

Elisabeth has since changed her name and moved with her children to an unknown location, away from Amstetten, the town some 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Vienna, where she was imprisoned for over half her life.

Date created : 2009-03-19